Steps to managing a data breach

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With the number of Australian businesses using the internet rapidly increasing, so too has the number of data breach incidents, most notably in the financial and healthcare industries.

Data breach prevention is essential in the age of the internet. With the number of data breaches constantly increasing each year, companies can’t afford not to invest in these security measures. Data breach prevention controls are needed to protect sensitive data from being stolen by hackers.

The Australian government is looking to fix this problem by revising cybersecurity frameworks and policies to make them stronger. However, businesses still need to take responsibility for protecting themselves against cyber-attacks by keeping abreast of new threats, enforcing strict cybersecurity policies, and managing data breaches.

Few businesses can afford to deal with the aftermath of a data breach, which is why cybersecurity is an essential part of all modern businesses. Responding to a data breach and breach management should be part of a well-planned and prepared security incident response plan.

Types of data breaches

A data breach refers to personal information or sensitive data that is held by an organisation where it is used in ways not authorised by the individual, or otherwise lost, mishandled or accessed without authorisation.

We usually think of data breaches occurring due to malicious actors successfully gaining unauthorised access to an organisation’s IT environment. However, while many data breaches result from malicious acts by external or internal parties, they can also be caused by human error, or failure to implement effective security systems.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a combination of “ransom” and “malware” and is similar to kidnapping a person then demanding a ransom for their return. It’s a specific malware that once it has infected a system, will block authorised users from accessing data systems and files. Payment is demanded in exchange for regaining authorised access. Many organisations of all sizes have been targeted by ransomware.

Two common types of ransomware are:

  • Locker ransomware: users are locked out of their computer after opening a link or file infected with malware.
  • Crypto malware: hackers access private files and encrypt them to block user access.

Cross site scripting (XSS)

Cross site scripting attacks are increasing in frequency and were responsible for 40% of global data breaches in 2019. These are a type of attack that allows a malicious script to be inserted into a website’s HTML body. When a user accesses the webpage, the malicious script is executed against the user’s browser, giving attackers direct access to the browser and data.

Attackers may then log keystrokes to find ways to access logins, take screenshots of files, or use cookies to gain remote access to the infected web browser.

SQL attacks

SQL is one of the most popular programming languages used for web-based data management systems. It’s the language that all information is relayed to and from your databases, making it an important part of your website’s security. SQL injection attacks have been on the rise in recent years.

An SQL injection attack occurs when a hacker gains control of a web database to hinder its efficiency. For instance, an attacker could exploit the vulnerability of the web application code and ‘dump’ all of its data in digital files. SQL injection attacks allow a hacker to take over a web app and add, modify, or delete data which cybercriminals may use. On some occasions, hackers will implement these attacks to destroy an organisation’s systems altogether.

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Common reasons for data breaches

All data breaches are the result of vulnerabilities present in IT systems which can be exploited through various cybersecurity loopholes.

The most common vulnerabilities that lead to data breaches include:

  • Human error: sharing account information, emailing the wrong person sensitive data, hardware that’s not encrypted being lost, not following up on cyber threats or data breach notifications, lack of employee education on basic cybersecurity practices and data protection.
  • Weak passwords: using easy to guess or repeated passwords, not using two-factor authentication, not updating log in credentials after set time frame.
  • Lack of proactive monitoring: use of legacy systems, outdated software, unpatched security systems, minimal compliance management and auditing of IT systems.
  • Supply chain attacks: third-party suppliers having poorly managed security which allows cyber-attacks to access along the chain.

What are the consequences of a data breach?

Each organisation will be unique in regard to the effects of data breaches. Timing and duration, as well as the industry that an organisation operates in, all affect the impact a data breach has. For example, data breaches may have more pronounced consequences for financial institutions than for manufacturing firms.

For most companies, the aftermath of a data breach will have heavy consequences, such as financial loss, business disruption, theft, reputation damage, and fines.

Loss of stakeholder and customer trust can be one of the most serious effects of data breaches. Many businesses find their reputation has been damaged beyond repair if they experience a data breach, especially if customer data has been hacked.

This is why it’s essential for companies to take steps to reduce the risks and take steps to protect their employees and customers from data breaches.

Managing a data breach

It should go without saying that prevention is better than the cure when it comes to security. It is critical for organisations to have a well-planned and deployed security strategy in place, and ensure this is regularly monitored and updated. This will mitigate any damage incurred if a data breach occurs.

Data breaches are inevitable, but they can be managed. With the right tools and processes in place, organisations can reduce the impact of a data breach. The security team should have a prepared incident response plan and disaster recovery plan to turn to once a breach occurs. These plans will form the key steps to managing a data breach.

As soon as you are aware of a data breach or any cyber-attack within your networks, call your managed service provider and get started on locking your accounts down. Your business’ data and privacy are of the utmost importance; having data breaches handled by cybersecurity experts will ensure that the attack is stopped in its tracks as quickly as possible. While your MSP deals with the data breach, you can get onto damage control.

Lindentech’s security specialists know how important your business data protection is. Talk to the experts today about getting complete protection from data breaches.

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