In today’s world, data bandit wannabes are around every corner—real and virtual. That means a data breach is not only possible, it’s probable and it can easily destroy your company and threaten customers’ finances and livelihoods. A data breach happens when someone’s sensitive and confidential information is taken by an unauthorized individual. It can also happen when someone mistakenly enters bank account information into a fraudulent webpage linked in a phishing email.
And like any robbery, on the high seas or the vast landscape of the internet, the larger the haul the more attractive the target. Companies like Google and Amazon, and many others hold financial information on behalf of thousands or millions of people. And the more records there are to be stolen, the bigger the resulting payout with the potential of it being sold on a large scale on the dark web.
There are five forms of data breaches in the modern world, including:
1. Physical theft may seem a bit old-school, but it’s still a threat. Think back to the example of the thief stealing a file cabinet. In the case of data theft, a crook might just steal a hard drive and leave the premises. It could even involve physically plugging a recording device into a computer network to directly copy business files.
2. Cyberattacks, on the other hand, can be done remotely. An attacker simply needs a sufficiently advanced computer and an arsenal of hacking tools. These tools include the likes of backdoors, nonexistent websites, keyloggers, trojans and viruses designed to deceive the user into clicking an infected link and unknowingly downloading intrusive and malicious programs on a computer system. A cyber-attacker might even intercept data as it is transmitted over an unsecure network. The Cost of Data Breach Study by IBM reports that cyberattacks represent 48 percent of data breaches.
3. Human error is an inevitable fraud risk. For example, an employee who writes a sensitive password on a napkin and absent-mindedly throws it into a public wastebasket opens up the door to a fraudster finding and benefiting from that information. The only way to reduce human error is to educate people so they understand all the ways thieves can steal their information.
4. Insider threats are insidious vectors of data breaches. A disloyal employee with access to your network may be tempted to sell sensitive data to a hostile organization. In many cases, a large number of users have excessive access to a company’s records. And a more complicated system can represent a multitude of opportunities for fraudsters to find sensitive information companies needs to keep hidden.
5. Ransomware is running rampant. The FBI reports that there are over 4,000 ransomware attacks on any given day. Ransomware allows an attacker to control your data, supposedly leaving it alone as long as demands are met. Living in fear of identity fraud is no picnic, and if an attacker can usurp control over data, he can also steal it or destroy it.
Just as you would guard your valuables from a real-life pirate, it is important to protect yourself and your customers against the threats you cannot see. Sensitive information must be guarded and your firm is obligated to remain watchful for signs of potential fraud.