A data breach is a security incident in which information is accessed without authorization. It can hurt businesses and consumers in a variety of ways. A data breach is the intentional or unintentional release of secure private/confidential information to an untrusted environment.

A data breach is different from data loss, which is when data can no longer be accessed because of a hardware failure, deletion or other cause.

Data breaches are not always intentional. Users can accidentally send protected data to the wrong email address or upload it to the wrong share; in fact, mistakes account for 17% of breaches, according to the well-known Verizon’s 2018 Data Breach Investigation Report. But the report found that most breaches are deliberate and financially motivated. While different methods are used to gain access to sensitive data, 28% of breaches involve insiders, according to the Verizon report.

Different sources define different types of data breaches:

  1. Cyber attacks: Hackers use malware, phishing, social engineering, skimming and related techniques to gain access to protected information.
  2. Theft or loss of devices: Laptops, smartphones, thumb drives and other data storage media can be lost, stolen or disposed of improperly. If they contain protected information and it ends up in the wrong hands, that’s a data breach.
  3. Employee data theft or data leak: Employees, especially those who are departing soon, might deliberately access protected information without authorization with malicious intent.
  4. Human errors: Mistakes happen, and people are negligent. Employees accidentally send proprietary data to the wrong person, upload it to public shares or misconfigure servers where it is stored.
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Prevent Data Breaches:

  • Patching and updating software as soon as options are available
  • Encryption for sensitive data
  • Upgrading when the software is no longer supported by the manufacturer
  • Reduce the transfer of data
  • Track data
  • The use of secure courier services and tamper proof packaging while transporting bulk data will help in preventing a breach or secure transfer.