The internet is not completely safe. Sorry we’ve got to break it to you this way, but this is the kind of truth that you’ve got to find out sooner, rather than later. Just because we’re online virtually all the time – our devices are often connected even when we’re asleep – it doesn’t mean that the internet is any safer. What it means, however, is that there’s just loads more data that can be hacked and stolen. Remember the early days of the internet when grown-ups were highly paranoid about the kinds of material that kids can be exposed to and learn from the web? The tables have turned, in some way. Yes, we learn a lot from the internet every day. Some things are of benefit to us and some things are quite detrimental to our sanity. However, “the internet” learns a lot more about us than most people think. And by “the internet”, we mean big data companies, all those platforms you use all the time, and even hackers and cybercriminals with malicious intent.
What is a Data Breach?
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At times, we give up our personal information willingly to digital companies that we think we can trust. Other times, however, our personal data is compromised – either from our own devices and accounts, or from the servers of big data companies or other organizations who hold onto our information. This is when a data breach occurs.
A data breach is a significant security event where information is accessed without authorization. When a data breach occurs, it hurts businesses and consumers. Consumers tend to lose trust in the businesses that they’ve entrusted their information with, while businesses incur major losses of all kinds in trying to deal with the aftermath of a data breach or data leak. Not forgetting to mention, data breaches can damage lives and reputations of people and organizations.
Financially, the average total cost to a company that suffers a data breach is $3.86 million dollars. Of course, when a data breach occurs, it doesn’t just affect the company whose servers were compromised, but it also affects individuals whose information is stored on those servers. It’s interesting to note, that even amidst a global pandemic, health facilities are among the most popular targets for hackers, suffering data breaches that cost them considerably. While large organizations and companies are a goldmine for cybercriminals and hackers due to the vast swathes of data they store, small to medium enterprises are also at great risk of data breaches. Even though larger organizations are juicier targets, they often have much tighter security measures in place – even if these don’t always hold up against attacks. Data breach examples from 2020 include tech giant Microsoft, General Electric, Walgreens, and San Francisco International Airport, among others. However, smaller businesses are incurring great costs as a result of data breaches since they don’t invest anywhere near as much in terms of cybersecurity or digital security.
Tips for Data Leak Prevention
Data leaks happen more often than we think. Even though they happen so frequently, we don’t always hear about them as 74% of companies that suffer a breach don’t even know it happened!
That fact doesn’t undermine the severity of a breach and how it can impact everyone in the organization and those who entrusted their data to the company. Here are some tips to help prevent a data breach from happening to you as an individual and a company.
1. Update Software Regularly
Yes, we know how annoying those software update notifications can be, whether they’re on your phone, tablet, or laptop. The fact of the matter is that there’s a good reason to keep your devices’ software up to date, even if you think you don’t need the usability tweaks that it might offer. Software updates come with security patches and updates as developers have kept up with the latest evolution in cybercrime tactics. These security patches also fix holes that developers have discovered in your software’s existing infrastructure. It’s cost effective, even though it might take some time and keep you from being productive while the update is being carried out.
2. Make Your Password Difficult to Decipher
Okay, this is probably another annoyance that plagues us whenever we want to create a password for a new account or reset the password of an old one. Even though it seems troublesome to have to create a password with at least one uppercase and lowercase character, a number, and a symbol, it’s for our own benefit! Creating difficult to decipher passwords exponentially increases the difficulty for a hacker to figure it out using password decryption devices. The more complex the password, the better. Also, as hard as it is sometimes, don’t use the same password for more than one account. If one account is breached, the likelihood that another account that uses the same password is breached is extremely high.
3. Educate Employees About Cybersecurity
The truth is that most data breaches occur due to negligence or plain old ignorance. Since employees are working on terminals connected to your company’s servers, mistakes do happen. This is why educating your workforce about how to work securely with their devices and interfaces is paramount. Phishing email scams can easily trick an employee into clicking a malicious link from their work emails, creating an opening for a data breach to occur. It’s increasingly necessary to keep your employees aware of cybersecurity threats which they could be the targets of.
4. Invest in IT Security Professionals
There’s a severe shortage of trained and qualified cybersecurity professionals today. For companies, this means that their cybersecurity infrastructure is compromised, resulting in servers that are easier to hack into and a higher likelihood of data breaches occurring. Investing in qualified IT security professionals helps companies stay one step ahead of hackers by having expert personnel on hand to deal with any security breaches.
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