What Are The Common Causes of Data Breaches & How To Avoid Them?
As a business, certain things can make you more susceptible to a data breach. Some of the most common causes of data breaches are:
- Ransomware: Unauthorized software that scrambles your important data files in an attempt to extort money from you or your business.
- Viruses/Malware: Unauthorized applications that can access private information potentially compromising user accounts and passwords. This could possibly take down your entire corporate network.
- Phishing: E-mail that appears to come from trusted source (Email provider, bank, PayPal, airline, etc.) that is actually a scam designed to trick you into revealing your username, password, or other confidential information.
- Social Engineering: A phone call from someone pretending to represent an organization they are not associated with in an attempt to get you to reveal confidential information.
- Employees: Trade secrets are leaked by a disgruntled former employee, or by someone who took a job at your company specifically to steal trade secrets (corporate espionage).
There’s no feeling worse than the one you get in the pit of your stomach after a data breach. Your private business and personal information is suddenly out there in the world and you have no way of knowing where it’s going, where it’s gone, or who it’s in the hands of. In an effort to lessen the damage of a data breach and start to rectify the situation, here’s what you can do:
- Contact your insurance company. We highly recommend that all businesses have an insurance policy that specifically covers data breaches (sometimes called cyber-insurance). In addition, after an attack, if you fail to immediately notify your insurance company they may not honor your claim.
- Contact an attorney with incident response experience. The laws vary from state to state regarding your responsibilities when breached. You will benefit greatly by having the proper legal representation.
- Contact law enforcement. Notifying the police department can help limit the damage. Additionally, this step reassures your customers that you’re doing everything you can to rectify the situation.
- Notify other area businesses. Sometimes a data breach of your information can affect the banks and business partners that you work with. When you get wind of a breach, let these external parties know so that they should be on the lookout for fraudulent activity.
- Let your customers or clients know. It’s your responsibility to let your customers know about the data breach. Describe what you know about the situation as best as you can and explain that the right people have been made aware and are working tirelessly to remedy the situation. Be sure to do this sooner rather than later – avoiding this step would look bad and may open you up to possible litigation.