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A data breach is when confidential, private, protected or sensitive information is exposed to a person who is unauthorized to see it. It can be a result of an accident or an intentional action to steal or disclose company information, usually for financial gain. It can also be a violation of strict privacy and security laws like GDPR or CCPA.

Internal breaches can be more devastating for businesses and individuals than external ones. They can be caused by an employee or someone inside your organization who intentionally leaks sensitive information, or by a security vulnerability on your network that was exploited.

Some hackers are out to make money by stealing credit card numbers or personal information, then selling it on the dark web. Others work for the government to gather intelligence and spy on rival nations or companies. Regardless of the motivation, attacks are on the rise and it’s more important than ever for businesses to invest in robust cybersecurity measures to prevent data breaches.

When a breach occurs, it’s crucial to have a solid communication plan that includes your employees, customers and investors, so they know what to do. It’s also essential to understand your legal requirements, as states have varying laws on when and how you must notify people of a breach.

If you use a third-party service for data processing, it’s worth finding out if they have policies in place to address breaches and what steps they’ll take to remediate a problem if a breach does occur. It’s also a good idea to regularly search the Internet for any personal information that was posted in error to ensure other sites aren’t saving copies of it.