Impact of An Attack: Combating A Data Breach
- by Dave Wreski
A data breach occurs when an attacker makes an unauthorized entry point into a corporation’s database, allowing them access to customer data. The impact of these types of email attacks can have lasting and severe consequences, so it is critical that your organization is prepared and has the proper tools at the ready. This article will discuss the implications of a data breach on small businesses, the challenges of preventing and stopping an attack, and what you should do if you’re targeted.
How Do Data Breaches Impact Small Businesses?
Several high-profile data breach have impacted small businesses, causing financial hardship or even leading to business closure within 60 days. Here are a few examples:
Target Data Breach
In 2013, Target experienced a massive data breach that compromised millions of customer's personal and financial information. While Target was a large corporation, the breach had a ripple effect on small businesses that relied on Target for revenue. For example, a small guitar shop in California claimed that it lost $20,000 in sales due to the breach because customers were reluctant to use their credit cards after the incident.
Home Depot Data Breach
In 2014, Home Depot experienced a data breach that impacted 56 million credit and debit cardholders. The breach significantly affected small businesses that used Home Depot as a supplier. For example, a small flooring company in Virginia claimed it had to lay off employees and nearly went out of business due to the financial losses incurred due to the breach.
Ashley Madison Data Breach
In 2015, Ashley Madison, a dating website for people seeking extramarital affairs, experienced a data breach that exposed the personal information of millions of users. While Ashley Madison was a large corporation, the breach significantly impacted small businesses that relied on the website for marketing and advertising. For example, a small private investigation firm in Texas claimed that it lost $75,000 in revenue due to the breach because it had relied on Ashley Madison for business leads.
These are just a few examples of how data breach impact small businesses. In some cases, the financial losses incurred due to a data breach can be severe enough to cause a company to close within 60 days. Small businesses must protect their data and implement cybersecurity measures to reduce the risk of a data breach.
Understanding how data breach can negatively impact various companies proves the value of mechanisms that can ensure email security and data loss prevention for your business.
Why Are Data Breaches so Difficult to Stop?
Data breaches are challenging to stop because cyber attackers continually evolve their techniques, making predicting and preventing attacks difficult. Cyber attackers can use sophisticated techniques to evade detection, such as encryption or hiding malware in legitimate files. Furthermore, many data breach occur due to human error, such as accidental disclosure or failure to follow email security policies and procedures.
Preventing data breach requires a multi-faceted approach that involves people, processes, and technology. Businesses and organizations should educate their employees on email security awareness, implement best practices for email security through various policies and procedures, and regularly test and audit their systems for vulnerabilities. They should also invest in security technologies such as firewalls, intrusion detection and data loss prevention methods, and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems to detect and respond to attacks.
Once attackers gain access to a system, they can move laterally to access other sensitive data, often using privilege escalation, lateral movement, or persistence techniques to maintain their access.
What is the Dark Web?
Although often confused and used interchangeably, the dark and deep web are distinct concepts.
The deep web refers to all web pages and content that search engines like Google or Bing cannot index and that can only be accessed through traditional methods like email. This includes private databases, intranets, and other privately accessible material. Estimates place this part of the internet much more significant than what can be accessed via traditional search engines - the surface web.
On the other hand, the dark web is an area of the deep web that's intentionally hidden and cannot be accessed through standard browsers or search engines. It comprises websites and services accessible only through specialized software or configurations like Tor. Although often associated with illegal activities like drug trafficking, weapons sales, and human trafficking, it also houses legitimate websites requiring anonymity for users, such as whistleblower sites or online forums for political dissidents.
Though the deep web is generally benign, the dark web can be dangerous for those unfamiliar with its illicit activities and risks. It's essential to note that accessing and engaging in illegal activities on the dark web could have serious legal repercussions.
Data loss and identity theft typically involve unauthorized access to sensitive information, such as passwords, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and other Personally Identifiable Information (PII), through hacking, phishing, or other means. Cybercriminals use the dark web to sell stolen data anonymously, using cryptocurrencies as a means of payment, making it difficult for law enforcement agencies to trace the transaction. The data is often sold to other cybercriminals who use it for fraudulent activities such as identity theft, financial fraud, and other scams.
What If I’m a Victim of a Data Breach?
If you have learned that your information has been stolen in a data breach, it's essential to take immediate action to protect yourself from further harm. Here are the five most important things you should do:
- Change your passwords: If your login credentials were compromised in the breach, change your passwords immediately. Use strong, unique passwords for each account, and consider using a password manager to help you create and manage secure passwords.
- Enable two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to your accounts by requiring a second verification form, such as a code sent to your phone and your password. Enable two-factor authentication on all of your accounts to help prevent unauthorized access.
- Check your accounts: Check your financial accounts, credit reports, and any other accounts that may have been affected by the breach for any suspicious activity. Report any unauthorized activity to the appropriate financial institution or company.
- Improve your email security: Many data breach occur due to spear phishing emails or other email-based attacks. Improve your email security by using a solid spam filter, being cautious about opening attachments or clicking links in emails, and enabling two-factor authentication on your email account.
- Monitor your personal information: Monitor your personal information, such as your Social Security number and other sensitive data, for any signs of fraudulent activity. Consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit report to help prevent identity theft.
By taking these steps, you can help protect yourself from further harm and minimize the impact of the data breach on your personal information. It's important to stay vigilant and protect your information in the future, such as practicing good cybersecurity habits, including undertaking the cyber essentials scheme and staying informed about data breach and other email security threats.
Keep Learning About Data Breaches
Many online sites that store your data don’t protect it as well as they should, which may result in a breach. Preventing that from happening isn’t always possible. Still, you can minimize your exposure by following the suggestions from this article and maximize your chances of recovery by paying attention when an email security or data breach occurs and taking immediate action.
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