5 Common causes of data breaches and how to stop them

5 Common causes of data breaches and how to stop them

Although data breach reporting dropped by 59% during the first half of 2018 in California, no business can afford to be complacent when it comes to cybersecurity. Everyone’s a potential target, and cybercrime continues to rise.

To protect your organization, you’ll need to identify the common causes of data breaches and how they can affect your operations. Here are the most common threats you need to watch out for:

#1. Human error

Human error is still the prevailing cause of data breaches, even though technology is usually the first to get the blame. Many people have developed poor security habits that put businesses at risk. For example, a lot of people don’t even use a PIN code to protect their smartphones, while others use easily guessable passwords or fail to lock their screens when they leave their desk.

Such habits are akin to leaving the door to your home wide open when you go on holiday. The only effective way to combat human error is to conduct ongoing security awareness training programs that help people understand that information security is everyone’s responsibility.

#2. Outdated systems

The cyberthreat landscape is constantly evolving. Hardware manufacturers and software developers are fighting an ongoing battle to be one step ahead by releasing regular security updates for their products.

That means you should always be running the latest version of every operating system, firmware, and application connected to your corporate network. Use automated patch management to keep everything up to date and immediately identify devices that are no longer supported. Any software or hardware that’s reached the end of its support life cycle should be retired as soon as possible, since the original manufacturer won’t be releasing any more critical security updates for it.

#3. Malware

Malicious software, or malware, refers to any kind of malicious code, such as computer viruses or ransomware. Malware comes in many different forms, from the mildly annoying to the highly dangerous.

Signature-based detection methods like conventional antivirus software will help protect IT systems, but they still need to be kept up to date to protect against new and unknown threats. However, signature-based detection is not enough to protect against zero-day exploits, malicious code injection, and a variety of other threats. To prevent malware infection, businesses need to implement comprehensive scanning to identify potentially suspicious activities, not just known threats.

#4. Social engineering

Most cybercriminals aren’t actually hackers staring for hours on end at unintelligible lines of code. Rather, they’re looking to build your trust by masquerading as legitimate businesses or your fellow employees. These social engineering scams hope to dupe victims into giving away confidential information.

Usually, there’s no specialized technology involved — scammers use the same platforms as everyone else, with the most popular mediums being email and social media. Sometimes, fraudsters even use physical means like dropping infected USB drives to trick an unwitting employee into using them in order to infiltrate a computer. It’s a lot harder to protect against these threats through technological controls alone, so the only real way to stop them is to train your employees to be more cognizant of them.

#5. Physical theft

It has become commonplace to use mobile devices in the workplace and for employees to bring their work laptops home with them, making physical theft a more serious problem than ever before. But far worse than losing the device is a thief gaining access to all the data stored on it.

Although there are ways to minimize the risk of theft, ensuring data safety is still more crucial. That’s why every device used for work should be encrypted and protected with multifactor authentication. Just for good measure, administrators should be able to remotely wipe lost or stolen devices, too.

Valley Tech Logic provides information security services that help organizations in Atwater, Merced, and Winton protect their most valuable assets and use modern technology with confidence. Call today for support.