What is a Data Breach?
Data Breach refers to unauthorized access by cyber criminals to a company’s infrastructure, databases, files or systems. This can result from intentional attacks, mistakes or oversight by employees and flaws in a company’s security infrastructure.
A breach can expose personal information such as a person’s bank account numbers and statements, credit card information, Social Security number, medical records and even photos. It can also disclose confidential corporate information such as trade secrets or strategic plans. Attackers use this information for financial gain or harm.
For individuals, a data breach can ruin their credit rating, cause identity theft or result in fraudulent charges on their bank accounts. It can also put their lives at risk when attackers try to impersonate them by stealing their passwords or by tricking them into wiring money to an offshore account (business email compromise attacks).
Attackers plan and execute attacks with meticulous detail. They research their targets to identify vulnerabilities in the system and its network. They may target a single employee to trick them into downloading malware or target the system itself directly. They may even use a combination of the two methods. The process can take hours or days of work for a malicious hacker. When a breach is discovered, the company must perform a formal risk assessment of the situation to see what information was lost and who compromised it. It must then implement systems and processes to mitigate the breach’s impact on consumers, employees and the organization itself.