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Data Breach

Data Breach occurs when sensitive, confidential, or protected information is accessed by an unintended party. This can be the result of human error like an employee accidentally sharing data with a colleague or intentional theft by a hacker.

A data breach can have serious ramifications for individuals. The loss of personal information such as credit card numbers, bank accounts, Social Security number, or medical records can leave you vulnerable to identity theft and fraud. It can also affect your job and career, and you may lose opportunities for future employment.

Attackers can gain access to data through a variety of methods including malware, ransomware, brute force attacks, on-path attacks, or even lost or stolen devices. Attackers are motivated by money and will do whatever it takes to obtain the data they need.

Examples of major breaches include the 2013 Yahoo breach that affected up to 3 billion users’ names, dates of birth, email addresses, phone numbers, hashed passwords and encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. The 2017 Target breach was notable for the amount of data accessed including customer credit card details.

Governments can experience a host of ramifications from the loss of military, political strategy or national information to foreign entities. In 2022, Verizon reported the highest rate of confirmed data breaches affecting government agencies and financial institutions. The first step after a breach is to perform a risk assessment and identify any secondary risks for users and systems. The next step is to restore systems using clean backups and patch vulnerabilities.