According to a report by Teramind, 231,354 data records are stolen every hour. With such high numbers, we get an idea of how serious cyber threats are, and becoming desensitized to them is something that no individual or business cannot afford to do.

If a data breach occurs in your business, you will not only lose revenue, but you might also find yourself on the wrong side of the law. In worst cases, you might be forced to close business, especially if you cannot recover crucial files.

What is a data breach?

Basically, a data breach is a security problem that results in unauthorized dissemination of sensitive data.

It occurs when cybercriminals infiltrate a system or database and get away with sensitive data that they use for malevolent intent.

Data breaches often expose various kinds of information, including personal data, credit card numbers, contact information, intellectual property, and software codes.

After a data breach, the hacker who gets hold of sensitive information can use it to gain access to secure networks, steal money, compromise systems, and engage in various criminal activities.

The common cyberattacks used in data breaches include;

  • Misconfigured or broken access controls
  • Spyware
  • Phishing

Why do data breaches occur?

There are various reasons why data breaches occur. They include;

Human error

Using unencrypted hardware devices, loss of critical paperwork, sending sensitive data via fax or email to incorrect recipients, and sharing account details with unauthorized persons are some of the human errors that lead to data breaches.

Poor authentication

Using weak and obvious passwords is another major reason why data breaches occur. When you use a simple password such as “1234” or “password,” a hacker will have an easy time penetrating even the most secure systems.

Old system vulnerabilities

The reason why you might be a victim of the next huge data security breach is that you are using outdated computer programs.  

Hackers use old software as a backdoor to infect target systems with malware. As a result, they gain access to all the data they need to fulfill their malicious intentions. 

Malware

Another primary reason why data breaches occur is that hackers are able to use phishing techniques that lure users to download malware.

This malware is often concealed as an important email attachment, mobile application, or computer software. When a user hits the download button, the malware is installed in their device; thus giving hackers full access to the system.

Hackers can also install the malware in your device when you are connected to public Wi-Fi. Most public networks are not encrypted; hence they give hackers an easy time to draw all the data they need from their victims.

Cybercriminals use high-tech tools and techniques to build malware in such a way that it cannot be detected by antivirus programs.

How to prevent data breaches.

There are many ways that business owners and individuals can adopt to prevent data breaches. They include;

Adopt strong authentication

Never use weak passwords or use the same password for different programs. Create a unique and strong alphanumeric password for every online platform you use. Since you might not remember all your passwords, consider finding a good password manager that you feel will fulfill your needs. 

In case you are creating your own program, ask your developer to adopt the multi-factor authentication, which will prompt users to verify their account ownership via phone, email, or SMS. This will make it hard for hackers to access your system.

Invest in a good VPN

A virtual private network is, without a doubt, one of the best tools that could protect your business from a myriad of cyberattacks. But you need to remember that all VPNs are not made equal; thus, you need to invest in the best.

Research and find the most recommended VPNs, such as NordVPN. Such VPNs come with an AES-256-GCM for encryption, which keeps your data safe. They also enable you to hide your IP and access your systems with anonymity, thus making it nearly impossible for hackers to trace your activities. 

Don’t download attachments from emails you aren’t expecting

Hackers send promotional and other attractive emails that lure users to download attachments. These attachments are mostly malware. When you download them, the malware is installed on your computer or mobile device, and the hacker accesses your personal information.

As soon as you spot phishing emails, delete it and spam the sender. This will prevent you from seeing their messages in the future.

Finally, don’t forget to invest time, energy, and resources in training yourself on cybersecurity practices. There are many courses online that can help you achieve this, and some of them are offered free of charge. Taking such courses will not only help you protect your business from data breaches, but it can also help you build a highly lucrative career.