5 Main Causes of a Data Breach
A data breach is a catastrophic event for any company.
A data breach exposes gaps in processes and failings in safeguarding the most sensitive company data.
Although disastrous, the revelation of these gaps can be turned into a positive experience. It is an opportunity to strengthen your business processes to prevent an such an event happening again.
Luckily, there are a number of simple ways you can help safeguard your business from a breach, preserving the company reputation and a potentially large fine.
Here are our top 5 causes of a data breach, and what to do if a breach occurs.
1. Human Error
Unfortunately, human nature is one of the main causes of a data breach. As human beings we make mistakes, make wrong decisions and often do not follow the processes set before us. The 3 main ways that human error is to blame are:
Using weak passwords
As hard as they are to remember, using a password containing numbers, upper and lower case letters and symbols are harder for hackers to crack. Avoid using dates or names that could easily be deciphered.
Sharing password information
Never share your password with a colleague. Whilst you wouldn’t want to suspect someone you work with, it is not good practice to allow anyone else access to your individual account.
Opening phishing emails or scams
One of the main ways hackers gain access to systems is via emails or text messages that can look surprisingly realistic. Never fill in your personal or business information in response to an email.
2. Not patching security systems
Having a robust security system to protect your business IT is vital in the fight against a data breach. Failing to update security software leaves your company door wide open to hackers. Similarly, not updating to newer versions of your website software and keeping all necessary plugins up to date can open the door to a hacker.
Malware is one of the main causes of a data breach. It’s short for ‘malicious software’ and refers to any virus that is designed to attack, damage or steal data from an IT device.
The main ways to prevent malware are:
- Use powerful antivirus software
- Be vigilant about the type of websites you access at your place of work. Many businesses restrict the type of websites you can access during the working day.
- Be aware of what you click on and open. If an email looks suspicious, inform your IT department immediately without opening any attachments.
Luckily, malware rarely causes a significant issue for companies, but the amount of malware in operation is still cause for concern and a threat that all employees should be aware of.
4. Unsecure networks when working remotely
Prior to the pandemic, around 14% of the workforce were working at home. In June 2020, 49% of workers reported working at home at some point.
With working from home suspected to carry on for the foreseeable future, businesses have had to adapt quickly to a shift in working locations. In March 2020 when the first lockdown began, IT departments across the world had to work around the clock to ensure that robust networks were secured to prevent a data breach whilst working remotely.
5. Theft of a physical device or document
Ever left a device or document on a train, bus or a taxi? Many of us have. Whilst the chances of the item being returned are pretty slim, you can take steps to encrypt passwords on devices and avoid taking printed documents home with you. Sensitive documents should also be encrypted to prevent access on mobile devices. Remember to shred any documents that you no longer need to ensure they are responsibly disposed of. Don’t forget devices containing hard drives. Hard drives may be securely shredded to prevent information being accessed.
Action to take after a data breach
If your business has been the subject of a hacking attempt, then you may be tempted to panic. Follow these simple steps to act responsibly and with integrity:
- Take a step back and review what has happened before you act
- Identify the exact issue and take steps to remedy the problem. How you react after the event is remembered over the actual breach
- Communicate with your staff and customers and be honest with them about what has happened
- Inform the ICO in order for them to take the appropriate action. It is essential that a data breach is reported within 72 hours of the event
- Learn from your data breach, provide reassurance that action has been taken to avoid a similar issue occurring in the future.
- Update and train staff as to the new processes to follow
Now you have identified the main causes of a data breach, The Shredding Alliance can help you prevent them. Enquire now for a price for our shredding services.