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 this attack 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 consequences of a data breach on small businesses, the challenges of preventing and stopping an attack, as well as what you should do in the event you’re targeted.
How Do Data Breaches Impact Small Businesses?
There have been several high-profile data breach that 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 the personal and financial information of millions of customers. 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 had a significant impact on small businesses that used Home Depot as a supplier. For example, a small flooring company in Virginia claimed that it had to lay off employees and nearly went out of business due to the financial losses incurred as a result of 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 had a significant impact on 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 can impact small businesses. In some cases, the financial losses incurred as a result of a data breach can be severe enough to cause a business to close within 60 days. It is essential for small businesses to take steps to protect their data and implement cybersecurity measures to reduce the risk of a data breach.
Why Are Data Breaches so Difficult to Stop?
Data breaches are challenging to stop because cyber attackers are continually evolving their techniques, making it difficult to predict and prevent attacks. Cyber attackers can use sophisticated techniques to evade detection, such as using encryption or hiding malware in legitimate files. Furthermore, many data breach occur due to human error, such as accidental disclosure or failure to follow 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 security best practices, implement security 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 prevention systems, 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 systems or sensitive data, often using techniques such as privilege escalation, lateral movement, or persistence to maintain their access.
What is the Dark Web?
Although often confused and used interchangeably, the dark web and deep web exist as distinct concepts.
The deep web refers to all web pages and content that cannot be indexed by search engines like Google or Bing 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 larger than what can be accessed via traditional search engines - known as the surface web.
The dark web, on the other hand, is an area of the deep web that's intentionally hidden and cannot be accessed through standard browsers or search engines. It consists of 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.
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 important 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. Make sure to 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 form of verification, such as a code sent to your phone, in addition to 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 as a result of phishing emails or other email-based attacks. Improve your email security by using a strong 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 take steps to protect your information in the future, such as practicing good cybersecurity habits and staying informed about data breach and other security threats.
Keep Learning About Data Breaches
Many of the sites online 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, but you can minimize your exposure by following the suggestions from this article, and maximize your chances of recovery by paying attention when a breach occurs and taking immediate action.
- Prepare your business for cyberattacks to make sure employees stay safe online.
- Improve your email security posture to protect against attacks and breaches by following best practices.
- Protect your email from credential theft and avoid the risk of Microsoft 365 account takeover.
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