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What Is a Data Breach?

4 min read | May 30, 2024

Data is the lifeblood of business. In today’s deeply interconnected world, data breaches are a significant, ever-evolving threat to all businesses, and one that won’t be going away as long as there are vulnerabilities to exploit. 

We hear about major data breaches all the time, with the most recent example being the AT&T cyberattack that saw 73 million past and current customers’ information being shared on the dark web. The data breach on Yahoo! users’ information holds the record for the most people affected at 3 billion users. It’s not only large enterprises that are being targeted, either. According to a report by Verizon, there has been an increasing trend of cyber threats directed against small businesses (i.e. less than 1,000 employees).

Once data is released, on the dark web or otherwise, there’s not much that anybody can do to remove the information. Learning more about data breaches and what your business can do is a strong first step in the right direction.

What Is a Data Breach?

A data breach occurs when unauthorized individuals gain access to confidential data like personal information, financial records and intellectual property. Unfortunately, if businesses don’t put measures in place to try and protect themselves from data breaches, the consequences can be far-reaching and dire for both the business and its customers.

6 Common Causes of Data Breaches

Data breaches can be caused by a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Phishing Attacks: Cybercriminals use deceptive emails or websites to trick employees into revealing sensitive information or downloading malicious software.
  2. Weak Passwords: Easily guessable passwords can provide hackers with a straightforward entry point into a company’s systems.
  3. Software Vulnerabilities: Outdated software or unpatched systems can have security flaws that cybercriminals exploit.
  4. Employee Access: Employees or former employees with access to sensitive information can intentionally or unintentionally cause data breaches.
  5. Physical Theft: Loss or theft of devices like laptops, smartphones or USB drives containing sensitive information can lead to data breaches.
  6. Third-Party Vendors: Vendors or partners with inadequate security measures can become a weak link in the security chain.

The bad news is that your business may be vulnerable to a data breach right now if it was targeted by a cyberattack. The good news is that there are ways to prevent them and protect your business.

How to Protect Your Business from Cyber Attacks

Consider the following tactics to help reduce your business’s risks:

  • Employee Training: Mitigate the risk of human error by educating all current and future hires about cybersecurity best practices, such as recognizing phishing attempts and the importance of strong passwords. 
  • Robust Password Policies: Enforce strong password policies and utilize multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of security.
  • Regular Software Updates: Make sure that all your systems and software are kept up-to-date with the latest security patches to eliminate vulnerabilities that could be exploited by cybercriminals.
  • Data Encryption: Use advanced encryption techniques to protect sensitive data, ensuring it remains secure even if intercepted.
  • Access Control: Restrict access to sensitive information to only those employees who need it to perform their job duties. 
  • Security Audits: Conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address potential weaknesses.
  • Incident Response Plan: Have a comprehensive incident response plan in place that will allow your business to respond quickly and effectively to any data breach, minimizing damage and ensuring a swift recovery.
  • Contact Benton Technology Solutions: We understand that businesses need IT help and support to ensure regular operations are kept running smoothly and without downtime. Let our experienced, local team help your business manage cybersecurity risks with our monthly managed IT service packages.

Contact Benton Technology Solutions and Protect Your Business

We offer complete, 24/7 network protection through our team monitoring your system for the latest malicious programs. Achieve peace of mind knowing that if a virus or spyware is discovered, we specialize in removal without the loss of data. If you already have an in-house IT team, we can support them as well! Contact us or call 919-794-6697 today.