Data Breach: Common Causes, Process and Prevention Methods

Data Breach: Common Causes, Process and Prevention Methods
7 min read

Data breaches are happening at an unparalleled rate and everyone having improper security can be face data breach experience at any time. It is necessary for every organization containing private or confidential data to understand the security risks and implement different techniques to minimize the risk factor. In this article, you will learn about the data breach, different phases, common causes and useful methods to prevent.

What is a Data Breach?

It is a process of getting unauthorized access to private data using malicious activities, but to put it simple words, the confidential information in the wrong hands constitutes a cyber breach or data breach. There are several methods and types of attacks used for the same purpose. Nowadays, there are billions of devices using the internet and getting access to different top websites.

There are a massive amount of data breaches occurred in recent years and affect the trust of the public. The main target of hackers are businesses, banks, informational, medical, and government websites. As the vulnerabilities increase, the defense methods are also improving day by day and giving valuable protection against confidential information leaks. 

How Data Breach Happens?

Hackers are using a number of different techniques to destroy the defense systems of their targeted businesses in order to steal private data. They try to target from outside of the businesses using external entry points. There are different options available to perform this unethical task, but often they log in to your systems using stolen credentials from a remote location.

1. Spear Phishing

It is an electronic communication scam targeted towards a specific organization form where the hackers need to steal confidential information. Hacker can be a friend or any coworker having the aim to steal the login credentials. Most of the hackers use factory set or default passwords that were not changed after the system deployment.

2. Understanding Vulnerabilities

It is a technical method, hackers identify and understand the vulnerabilities in the network of the targeted organization. They have the ability to enter into a network without any detection if they found any minor hole in defenses.

For example, some network appliances store the login credentials in their cache and if the cache is not cleared the attacker can steal the credentials. Alternatively, maybe some IT managers neglect to install the security patches then it can be a reason to steal the information.

3. Eavesdropping  

It happens when the organizations are communicating using the external links and hacker enters in the middle of their messages stream. So it is possible to harvest the data from their conversations if they are not using the highest level of encryption methods.

What are the Causes of Major Data Breaches?

Following are the common causes of data leaks:

1. Human Errors

People make mistakes and their minor mistakes could experience a big loss to the business. Confidential information may get distributed without using any data prevention techniques. It is also possible to send data accidentally to any wrong person, misconfigured servers and different uploads to public folders can cause you a big loss.

2. Theft of Devices          

We all have many devices from smartphones to laptops, hard drives and other storage devices that can be stolen easily, misplaced, or lost. Devices having sensitive information can be given to the wrong hands and lead to a significant data leak.

3. Employee Data Theft

Try to remove all accounts of your employee who is terminating your company. He can deliberately access private information or data without any permission. Your ex-employee can copy and distribute data with malicious intent.

4. Cyberattacks

Hackers are actively generating attacks using malware, phishing, social engineering, scams, and skimming to get access to private and encrypted information. There are top 43 Cybersecurity tools to improve network security.

What are the Main Steps Involved in a Data Breach?  

There are three main steps that are used to steal the data steal: an examination of data, break-in, and exfiltration.

First Step: Examination of Data

Attackers examine the target by mapping the network and systemic infrastructure. For example, attackers understand the Operating systems, types of databases because there are different techniques used for a Microsoft SQL server database breach and Oracle databases running on the Linux operating systems.

Hackers will try to get information about people who are responsible for administering and securing the data. They use social engineering public and semi-public methods using Facebook, LinkedIn, and other similar platforms. If they are succeeded in getting the personal information they can get into the network.

Second Step: Break-in

Break-in is actually getting unaware access to the database by fake accounts. Most of the attacker is not detected over months because the organizations are completely unaware of the presence of any hacker. He can perform the largest data breaches by copying and exfiltration of a huge amount of confidential data. They will get the “root” (or super administrator) level access and mask their activities in order to perform these unethical tasks.

Third Step: Exfiltration

Exfiltration or unauthorized copy of stolen data using encryption can be sent out from the network of organizations in a virtually invisible state.

What can Attackers do with Hacked data?

They need to use your information for personal benefits by using different ways. Following are the example:

  • Use new credit cards under your name

  • Get government benefits

  • Open telecom accounts

  • File a tax return in your name and take the tax refund

  • Withdraw money from your accounts

  • Sell your clients’ information on Dark web

How to Prevent Data Breaches?

1)   Make Investments for Technical Trainings and Security Enhancements

Try to organize educational and technical workshops on how to handle sensitive data and minimize the risks. It will be helpful to provide security awareness to your employees. According to research, a high percentage of security breaches are caused by company employees. So, security training and awareness within your organization is the key factor to prevent attacks.

2) Strictly Follow IT Policies

The organization must enforce IT policies to implement across the networks. In order to reduce the risk of stealing sensitive data, every company should check the following:

  • Use complex passwords

  • Check the server configurations

  • Configure firewalls and use patches

3) Implement Different Protection Methods

Confidential and private information must be protected either sending anywhere or storing. The organization needs to ignore the data backups on tapes that can be easily stolen, they should implement the proactive technique by taking data backups outside of the organization with the help of internet.

Get a remote backup service and store your data in a safe place. Storing the organizational data on physical devices within the company is risky.

Moreover, they can also use cloud services where the data is highly encrypted and monitored by a professional team who can inspect any malicious traffic without any difficulties. You can also use another wonderful method by using software solutions with restricted access to particular employees and remove the permissions when they leave the office.

If you don’t know about the importance of taking the backup of your data available on the internet then go through the complete guide to take website backup.

4) Use Top Encryption Methods

Around 60% of organizations lost their information that was not using the encryption methods. Nowadays, it is very easy to use different inexpensive encryption methods to protect your private data. There are also various solutions available including software management and policy implementation with the option to manage privileges.

5) Change Password Regularly

Try to change passwords on a regular basis, use complex and unpredictable passwords that are hard to crack. Don’t forget to provide restricted permissions to a particular employee and change the password if any employee leaves the office. Moreover, always keep up-to-date operating systems and other application software because attackers identify the bugs in old versions and use them to attack.

6) Reduce the Downloads

It is one of the common security breach methods because malware is downloaded by users. Strictly monitor and try to reduce the number of downloads. You can also reduce the risk of transferring downloadable media to any other external source.

7) Implement Two-Factor Authentication

Use proactive techniques by implementing two-factor authentication. Everyone is familiar with the account logins, 2FA takes the logins a step further. It is used to make sure that a genuine person is logging in with the help of a text code sent to his mobile number.

According to a study provided by Carnegie Mellon University, 75 percent of the participants made the accounts more secure with the help of 2FA. 50% of them consider the process is annoying and it takes time. It is a very helpful method for protecting against unauthorized logins.

8) Use SSL in your Email Clients

Any client connects to the server of the email provider company using the desktop or laptop and performs send/receive operations of emails. Don’t choose email provider without SSL certificates and always use SSL whenever you want to connect email provider.

9) Use Credit Monitoring Alert

There are many services are available to provide alerts when any suspicious activity found on your financial account. You can monitor the activities of all your business accounts with this service. Nowadays, most of the banks and credit card companies are provide alerts on any suspicious activities.  

10) Immediately Contact Your Bank

If you notice any suspicious activity on your business account, call your financial institution immediately. So that they can execute their procedures to prevent the loss.


If you don’t have the experience of data loss then congratulations but after reading this article if you still leave the hole for hackers, you cannot become a proactive person. Understand the real importance of data breach, you will lose the trust of people and millions of dollar business loss.

If you are not a technical person but also want to secure your business with automatic confidential data backups, contact our technical team to get more information to develop your own strategy to make sure everything is secure.    

2 thoughts on

Data Breach: Common Causes, Process and Prevention Methods

  • Hammad Mohsin

    A data breach exposes confidential, sensitive, or protected information to an unauthorized person. Once they get to know a target weak point, they develop a campaign to get an insider to mistakenly download malware, or they go after the network directly. Once an inside malicious actor has the freedom to search for the data they want and lots of time to do it, as the average breach takes more than a few months to detect.

  • Steve Roger

    Very good article.thanks for sharing. Keep up the good work

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