More than ever, businesses must maintain a robust cybersecurity posture since the price of a cyberattack can cost millions and even permanent closure for the impacted business. Attackers have a cavalry of techniques at their disposal, but trends are exposing their preferred tactics.

Organizations of all sizes face the consequences of successful data breaches, with 63% of companies saying their data may have been compromised by a hardware-level security breach, yet cybersecurity positions are the most difficult to fill. The average cost of a data breach in 2022 is $4.35 million, with the global annual cost of cybercrime estimated to reach $7 trillion by the end of 2022. This article will discuss the causes of an attack as well as methods of prevention to keep your business safe from data breaches and other cyberattacks.

How A Data Breach Occurs

A data breach is a security violation, in which sensitive or confidential data is copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen, or used by an unauthorized individual. The more time it takes to respond to a data breach, the worse the damage. Cybercriminals are able to infiltrate more information and opportunities to cause damage if a breach goes undetected. Five common causes of a data breach include the following:

Weak or Stolen Passwords

Stolen passwords are one of the most common causes of data breaches as many people rely on predictable phrases making it easy for cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive information. Moderately secure passwords can be cracked with computer programs that run through millions of the most popular credentials. You can also create vulnerabilities by using the same phrase for multiple accounts. 

Back Doors & Application Vulnerabilities

Hackers may exploit poorly written software applications or network systems that are poorly designed or implemented. This leaves holes for criminals to crawl straight through to get directly at your data. Because of this, it’s critical you keep all software and hardware solutions fully patched and up to date.

Malware

Malware is a type of malicious software that when downloaded without intention grants access to a hacker to exploit a system and potentially other connected systems. Types of malware include computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, and spyware. Be wary of opening websites or emails without first confirming their legitimacy.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is the psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. This includes passwords or bank information or accessing your computer to secretly install malware.

Insider Misuse

Preventing insider abuse is nearly impossible, however, damage can be minimized by granting access by roles. The fewer files and systems employees have access to, the harder it is for them to abuse them. 

Data Breach Examples

Security breaches have been around for almost as long as computers and were mostly just an inconvenience. That changed with the birth of hackers and malware that now have the power to affect users around the globe and cost businesses millions of dollars. Most security breaches are due to criminal activity, with some of the worst being state-sponsored. Some examples include:

  • First American Financial Corp: failed to require authentication to access some 885 million banking records. They also didn’t follow their own guidelines and security policies as well as failed to conduct a security review.
  • Facebook: another self-inflicted data breach after failing to protect access to user databases either through encryption or passwords. This left the databases vulnerable to anyone using a search engine. Roughly 540 million records were compromised.
  • LinkedIn: usernames and passwords for 165 million users were breached by Russian hackers forcing the company to pay $1.25 million to users that paid for LinkedIn’s premium services.

Tips For Preventing A Data Breach

Close up of businessman hand holding tablet with abstract glowing keyhole padlock interface on blurry background. Protection, safety and technology concept. Double exposureCybercrime is one of the fastest-growing industries around the world, continuing to impact businesses in all vectors. Staying protected from cyberattacks is challenging when cybercriminals are constantly looking for new ways to expose security risks. Despite this it is crucial you are aware of the most up-to-date cybersecurity tips and best practices, including:

Tips For Other Cyberattacks

Attackers are developing increasingly sophisticated methods to steal sensitive data. However, many data breaches result from human error such as poor configuration, no or weak encryption, or third and fourth party vendor breaches. Some methods of prevention of common cyber attacks include:

Phishing Related Breaches

Phishing attacks use social engineering attempts to compromise sensitive information such as login credentials, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and other financial information. Phishing scams often express a sense of urgency or social pressure to manipulate users into handing over their details via email or on a fake website. To prevent phishing, educate employees to think and analyze before interacting with emails, fraudulent links, and attachments. 

Ransomware Breaches

Ransomware is commonly spread through phishing or by exploiting vulnerabilities. In order to prevent a ransomware-related data breach, you should consider installing anti-malware and antivirus software, backing up files so files aren't lost if an attack is successful, and patch devices constantly.

Spyware Breaches

Spyware is a form of malware that works to infect your computer or network and then steals your information. It can be delivered through phishing or as a secondary infection from a separate cyber attack. Similar to ransomware, preventing spyware can be done with antivirus and antimalware software and awareness training.

Zero-Trust is Crucial For Security

Zero-Trust strategies help protect against large-scale data breaches both of a company’s information and that of their customers, insecure email sharing and misconfigured or exposed cloud services that leave the intellectual property vulnerable. As cloud computing and integrations become more widespread, this trend will continue to grow, especially as more data is now stored in the cloud than on private servers or consumer devices.

Adaptive, Multi-Layered Protection

Implement adaptive, multi-layered email protection that offers multiple layers of security that detect and block threats in real time and build on each other to provide more effective defenses. Guardian Digital EnGarde Cloud Email Security is engineered to defend against sophisticated attacks such as targeted spear-phishing, ransomware, and emerging zero-day attacks, to protect your users and your business against today's most advanced threats. EnGarde’s fully-managed email protection draws on a combination of features and characteristics designed to work harmoniously to offer the highest level of protection.

Clean-Up & Remediation

If you discover your business experienced a data breach, there are consequences that could last long after. Besides the damage of losing personal information from your corporate server or stolen customer information, you may not know where to begin in regards to clean-up and recovery.

You should start by first notifying law enforcement, other affected businesses, and affected individuals. Your next step is to quickly secure your systems and fix vulnerabilities that may have been the cause of the breach - attackers often come back and try to use the same vulnerability again and again to collect more information. After taking devices offline, consulting with forensics experts, and interviewing the employee who identified the breach, create a comprehensive plan that reaches all affected audiences, including employees, customers, investors, business partners, and other stakeholders. Provide full disclosure without sharing anything that might lead to further damage. This information might help consumers protect themselves and their personal data. 

A data breach can cause a gap in production, harm your reputation and continue to affect customers or affiliates well after the damage has been repaired, so prevention is the key to future business success.

Specific Risks to SME

Cyber security systems for business networkBigger companies have developed a reputation as being the only victims of cybercrime and not small or medium size businesses. Cybercriminals are often well-organized and have many resources at their disposal, launching constant attacks on data targets, and examining weak spots. SMEs typically have fewer resources in cybersecurity than big corporations, making them more attractive to criminals, and leaving space for more vulnerabilities.

Many small and medium enterprises collect customer data, including banking, financial, and tax information, contact and residential details, consumer purchasing history, and even sensitive medical records. Due to the importance of the data these companies maintain, the consequences of a data breach can be severe.

Companies can face regulatory liability and third-party liability after a data breach occurs, but this is not the full extent of the possible damages. Cybercriminals may hold the data hostage to extort a ransom from the company, or mine sufficient data to target consumers. In this scenario, a data breach is not an end result but only the beginning of their ongoing cybercrimes.

Keep Learning

The digital era is growing increasingly interconnected and it can be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to protecting your business from cyberattacks. Maintaining a strong cybersecurity posture is an ongoing process, especially because of the need to continue educating your staff on cybersecurity. 


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