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A data breach occurs when confidential, private or protected information falls into the wrong hands without authorization. This can be the result of an intentional attack to steal data from a company or through human error like accidentally sending sensitive information to the wrong person.

Attackers may use compromised data for a variety of reasons including selling it on the dark web, using it to commit identity theft or conducting financial fraud and more. Attackers can also use stolen data to blackmail organizations by threatening to release the data publicly or demanding a ransom payment.

Generally, attackers target companies or organizations to gain access to sensitive and proprietary data. They can do this by exploiting coding flaws in applications systems, malware and other methods to gain entry. However, human errors can also lead to breaches, for example when an employee clicks on a suspicious link or CCs the wrong people in email chains or when physical devices like laptops containing sensitive information are lost in public places like a coffee shop.

Organizations can reduce the risk of a data breach by setting up multifactor authentication to verify identities and encrypting sensitive data in storage or during transmission. They should also train employees on how to spot malicious emails and avoid clicking on unknown links. Additionally, they should encourage their staff to use different passwords for each account they own and close accounts that are no longer used to prevent hackers from gaining access to a single account by using it as a back door into other accounts.