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The number and variety of ways personal data can be hacked continues to grow. Attackers can use stolen data to make fraudulent charges on your credit cards or create a fake identity to open new accounts, file tax returns, or receive government benefits or loans. Attackers can also use your information to sell it on the dark web. And if an attacker has access to your company’s sensitive systems, they can expose the entire business to legal and reputational damage.

The cause of a breach can be as simple as forgetting to enable MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) for critical users. This type of lapse in security hygiene was responsible for the recent JPMorgan data breach that impacted nearly 77 million customers. The more serious causes of data breaches include unauthorized entry through malware infections, lateral movement and privilege escalation (attackers gain access to other servers or user accounts), and exfiltration (the hacker takes the stolen data outside the affected network).

A cybercriminal can steal your information from your computer, mobile device, or business’s computers, servers, or networks. They can hack into your email or other business communications, snoop around in office offices looking for paper documents and physical hard drives, or place skimming devices on point-of-sale (PoS) machines to capture your credit card data. They can even break into your home or car to steal your data-encrypted laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

In the event of a data breach, work with your forensic experts to determine the scope and cause. Develop a plan for communication with your customers including how you’ll contact them, when they can expect more information, and remediation steps.