Data Breaches: Identifying & Defending Against Security Threats

By CTI | Jul 09, 2019 | Insights

A data breach can cause an organization to lose information, money, and even credibility from a company in the blink of an eye. Even the best prepared corporations are vulnerable to cybercrime. However, these seemingly indomitable threats can be mitigated (or prevented altogether) with proper security measures.

Strategizing to prevent security threats requires an understanding of the big picture: how data breaches occur, what the indicators of a data breach are, how to calculate its impact on your business, and what preemptive measures can be taken to prevent breaches altogether.

How Does a Data Breach Occur?

A cybercriminal can gain unauthorized access to your data in a number of ways. While it’s possible for a data breach to occur physically—by stealing a computer or hard drive, for example—it’s more common for a cyberattacker to execute their plans remotely. To do so, they have to infiltrate or bypass network security. There are a variety of ways to do this, but some methods are more common (and successful) than others.

  • Phishing Attacks: Most commonly executed via email, phishing involves cybercriminals posing as familiar or trusted contacts in order to trick targets into relaying sensitive information, such as by filling out a form with their credentials. Embedding malware inside a harmless-looking link can bait an unsuspecting user into exposing personal and financial data. This is just one form of social engineering, a method that is often at the root of a successful cyberattack.
  • Cracking Weak Credentials: The comfort of reusing one static password across several logins can have devastating consequences for users. If an attacker uncovers a universal password, they’ll have a gold mine of user information at their disposal. This tactic is especially effective when it targets businesses, as users may use the same credentials from a prior data breach at their place of employment.
  • Security Vulnerabilities: Outdated software or ineffective security can leave the door wide open for malicious activity. Just as cyberattacks become increasingly complex and innovative, so too must any security software—it’s important to update constantly in order to mitigate risk.

What Does a Data Breach Mean for My Business?

As previously mentioned, a data breach can result in a loss of classified information, money, or credibility—or, as is often the case, the loss of everything. In extreme cases, the damage is irreversible and can put a company out of business.

If the data in question is extremely sensitive, a breach could violate customer trust in your company. That’s often the case when a patient’s medical records are stolen or banking information is exploited. Regardless of fault, a data breach reflects poorly on your business and implies unpreparedness or carelessness on your part with regard to your customers’ information.

Beyond this, data breaches can be costly. In some cases, the cyberattacker can extract funds directly from your banking accounts; in others, the loss of data can cost you steep penalties for the violation of privacy laws and regulations. Either way, it’s a hit you can’t afford to take.

A data breach is sure to leave its scar, but recovery is definitely possible.

How Can I Recover from a Data Breach?

A data breach isn’t always a death sentence, especially with the right recovery strategy. Once legal obligations have been fulfilled, you can proceed with reassessing your ineffective security measures and consulting with an IT professional to conduct a security audit. From there, you’ll be able to determine the proper updates and solutions to prevent future breaches.

The consequences of a data breach can certainly be devastating—you may be forced to cut costs and let go of employees due to reduced revenue. However, you can learn from that negative experience to develop proactive measures that will redefine your brand and operations moving forward.

Additionally, you should invest in your public relations efforts to reflect an optimistic, results-driven approach to protecting the future of your business and to reassure your customers that you’re working with authorities to recover any stolen information. Revamp your security configuration and brush up on your data collection policies. Take steps in the right direction and express your efforts to both affected customers and prospects.

How Can I Prevent a Data Breach?

The best way to restrict cyberattackers from breaching your data is by taking the right precautionary measures and enforcing a proper security plan. You’ll want to ask yourself several questions:

  • What plans does your business have in place to identify a data breach? Do you have a third party that monitors suspicious activity for you, or is this done internally? Are you currently running software that monitors activity, or is your data currently unprotected? Are you capable of tracking where and when your data is being accessed, and by whom?
  • Where does your business’s data reside? Is your data stored on premises, or do you use a cloud-based system? Who is granted access to your data? How easy or difficult is it to locate the source of your data?
  • What is your business’s data breach prevention plan? Should malicious activity occur, how can you contain the attack, account for the lost data, and communicate the aftermath to relevant stakeholders, clients, and/or law enforcement?

Preventing data breaches requires preparedness across the board. Consulting with an IT professional or investing in a recovery assessment or service puts you ahead of attackers.

How CTI Can Help

Implementing a data breach prevention plan is made simple and effective by CTI’s SHIELD programs. These specialized services are designed to help your business construct, assess, and secure your prevention plans to repel cyberattacks. Each solution focuses on different aspects of the security process to create a comprehensive strategy for your business.

For example, our SHIELDRISK service runs a security assessment by presenting 50 scenarios for your current configuration to face head-on. This point-based testing evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of your system and scores you based on the effectiveness of your preventative measures. Recommendations are provided to boost your score and, more importantly, your current cybersecurity setup.

Similarly, our SHIELDCONTROLS program takes a proactive approach by pen-testing your internal operations and company network. If any entryways are discovered, our testers will notify you of the weakness and provide solutions to enhance your security measures.

CTI can help craft your data breach prevention plan. Contact us today for more information on our Shield services and how to reduce your organization’s risk of becoming the victim of a data breach.