The Top Five Most Common Causes of Data Breaches

Data breaches have become all too common in today’s information-driven society, and they seem to be getting more and more frequent as we become more interconnected. Breaches often occur as the result of one of the following five causes. Read on to learn about these causes, which may help you avoid potential data breaches in your own business.

Stolen or lost devices
Although they’re a top cause, these kinds of breaches are relatively easy to prevent. Stolen devices can be protected with a PIN or password, and if a device is stolen you should remotely wipe it right away. Lost devices are trickier, but for phones at least there are tracking apps that can alert you if it’s located by someone else. And no matter what kind of device, always back up your data to an external location so that in case anything happens, you don’t lose anything important.

A phishing attack is often delivered in a form that looks like an email from a legitimate company, including typos and formatting issues. The message will ask for personal information, such as login credentials or credit card numbers.

Third-party breaches
Hackers aren’t just targeting big businesses. In fact, small and midsize companies make up 60 per cent of reported breaches in 2016, according to IBM Security. A significant number of these incidents can be traced back to third-party suppliers, especially those working with payment data or other sensitive information. The best way to avoid a breach from a supplier is by performing background checks on all vendors before you begin doing business with them. When it comes time for renewal, review their security practices as well. It may seem like an unnecessary step, but when it comes to protecting your customers’ personal information, there is no such thing as too much caution.

One of the biggest causes for concern is ransomware—malware that encrypts your data. Hackers can then request ransom money to release your files. While recent versions of Windows 10 include security tools like Defender, there are plenty of other ways you can protect yourself from ransomware attacks. If your computer has been hacked, don’t pay a ransom; instead, talk to a pro about wiping and reinstalling your hard drive.

Infected servers
It’s important to update your operating system regularly and keep everything, including your web browser, antivirus software, operating system and browsers as up-to-date as possible. Keeping everything updated and patched reduces your risk. If you do experience a data breach due to an infected server, it is imperative that you notify customers immediately. You should also contact law enforcement so they can track down who is responsible for planting malware on your server.