Glossary / Data Breach

Data Breach

The intentional or unintentional release of secure or private/​confidential information to an untrusted environment.

What is a Data Breach?

A data breach occurs when an unauthorized person gains access to sensitive information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, personal health information, etc. It also includes the theft of passwords and other credentials used to access online accounts.

Data breaches happen because criminals want to steal information or break into other systems to cause subsequent damage. When someone downloads malware onto their computer, they can unknowingly give away their password and other login details. These details can then be used by an attacker to gain access to other websites where the user has an account. As a result, users may have trouble accessing important personal or financial documents that are stored on these sites.

If you think your organization might be at risk of a data breach, contact your in-house IT security staff or a reputable IT security firm. They can help you identify potential risks and prevent future attacks.

How does a Data Breach happen?

Data breaches can occur in many ways, including theft, loss, mismanagement, or unauthorized access to a device.

The most common way cybercriminals steal information from companies is through phishing scams. These emails look like they come from legitimate sources, but instead contain malicious links or attachments that allow hackers to gain access to sensitive information. Accordingly, it’s important for employees to always check email addresses before clicking any link or opening any attachment.

Another popular method of stealing information involves using keyloggers installed on employee devices. Keylogger programs record every detail typed into web browsers, chat applications, word processors, spreadsheets, and more. This allows hackers to easily copy usernames, passwords, and other personal information stored within these apps.

What are examples of data breaches?

Data breaches can be defined as any unauthorized access via a cyber attack to sensitive information stored on computers, servers, mobile devices, or other electronic systems. This includes both physical and virtual machines. Examples include stolen laptops, lost hard drives, and compromised accounts. Afterward, this information may be sold on the cybercrime underground or shared with third parties.

The most common type of cyber attack involves malware, which is software designed to infiltrate computer systems without the user’s knowledge. Malware can take many forms, including viruses, worms, trojans, spyware, adware, and ransomware. It can steal intellectual property, personal details, personal data, damage files, or shut down a system.

How do criminals profit from data breaches?

Criminals make money when they sell your personal information to others. They might resell your name, address, date of birth, telephone number, driver's license number, medical records, tax returns, etc., to identity thieves, debt collectors, telemarketers, employers, insurance companies, banks, loan officers, and many more. They sell tools like phishing kits, which help individuals create convincing emails that appear to come from trusted sources. Once the recipient opens the attachment, he or she unwittingly gives away his or her identity and possibly more.

The value of each piece of information varies depending on its sensitivity.

If you suspect an incident has occurred, call your local police department or FBI office. They can provide assistance if needed.

Examples of Data Breaches

Additional high profile data breaches include:

How do I protect my organization from a data breach?

It’s important to keep in mind that protecting your organization from data breaches should start with your cyber security team investigating cyber threat intelligence products and services.

Intel 471’s Titan provides you with a global intelligence capability for human cybersecurity teams and machines. Whether scaling your cybersecurity presence or just starting to build your team, these tools and services can help you fight cyber threats.

For your IT / SOC / DevSecOps team, you can deploy Intel 471 Intelligence to gain up-to-the-moment threat coverage and analysis across Adversary, Malware, Vulnerability, and Credentials to gain better cybersecurity intelligence insights than you've ever had before.

The best way for your staff to protect against a data breach on a day-to-day basis is through cyber security training and reminders not to download any suspicious files or open email attachments they receive. If they do get infected with malware, it will likely spread quickly through your network. This means that all of your devices could become compromised at once. Your cyber security team should immediately remove the malicious program from your system using anti-malware tools. Next, remind staff to change passwords for any online services where they use the same credentials. Finally, be sure to contact your bank or financial institution so they can help lock down affected accounts.