You wake up one morning and get notified that your bank details have been breached? Hackers now know all the important details about you? It means that you have been a victim of data breach. You may think what is it and how does it occur? Obviously there will be so many questions regarding data breach and you get your answers from this article.
Data breach is often understood as identity theft. Although the two are related but not the same. There is a possibility of data breach turning into identity theft. It will not happen every time that if your personal information is stolen then hackers will use it to commit identity theft. To sum it up data breaches may or may not lead to identity theft.
What is a Data breach?
Data breach is a type of cyberattack in which hackers/cyberattackers get unauthorized access to your private information. Data breaches can happen anywhere. Ranging from second party retail stores to third party business it can take place anywhere to anyone.
As mentioned above data breaches can happen to anyone at anytime but how does it occur? Let’s have a look at the three steps in which a data breach takes place:
- Research: The starting phase or the research phase of the database is when the hackers search for weakness/vulnerabilities in the security system of their target company.
- Attack: The research phase is followed by the attack phase. Now that the attacker knows the target’s vulnerability he/she can attack them in two ways, I.e., social or network attack.
- Social attack: It is a type of attack in which a hacker uses a scam, like a phishing scam for baiting its target. Their main is to get access to a network or lure the bait into opening an attachment carrying the virus.
- Network attack: Cybercriminals use this method to break into an organization’s private information through their security system or infrastructure.
- Exfiltration: The final phase of data breaching is exfiltration in which the hacker finally gets access to the target’s system. The hacker may or may not have access to the data right now but can have it with ease. The attack is successful after all the required information is extracted.
The reason behind data breaches
After knowing the process of data breaching another important thing to know I how it happens. There is no single reason for this. The reasons why data breaches occur are:
- Malware/Virus: Malware is used by many hackers for different purposed and one of them is data breaching. For example, RAM scrapers are used for scanning digital devices and extracting sensitive data from them. Keyloggers are used for capturing the keys struck on the keyboard so that they can steal passwords and other important information.
- Criminal hacking: One of the top causes of data breaching is criminal hacking. If a criminal wants to hack into an organization’s system, he/she can use techniques like SQL and Malware injection. Most of the criminal hackings involve stolen credentials which doesn’t require any special hacking skills. You can purchase that information on the dark web, use password generating machines to crack them, guess them and more. Hackers can use this information in many ways like selling it on the dark web, using it to commit fraud or phishing scams.
- Human error: Your information is not always stolen by some hacker, sometimes it is the fault of an employee. They may send sensitive information and credentials to the wrong person, mailing wrong attachments to someone etc. Misconfiguration can also be a human error when they leave a database containing important information without any password.
- Unauthorized use: Another reason for data breaches is the unauthorized use of information by the employees of any organization. They can misuse it in two ways
- Data mishandling: When an employee is unauthorized to access some information and still does that. Or when some employee access, copy, share, and steal a sensitive piece of information.
- Privilege abuse: When an employee stumbles upon information he/she wasn’t supposed to. It can happen because the organization didn’t set up appropriate security measures for that. It can also happen when an employee doesn’t follow the correct procedure and alters a file/document.
- Outdated systems: More than half of the data breaches occur due to hacking but what makes a hacking process easier? Our own system’s vulnerabilities like outdated systems are the reason behind that. The software must be maintained and updated from time to time which increases its security.
- Pretexting: Pretexting is a way of scamming people just like phishing. But they are quite different. Both in phishing and pretexting hackers contact their targets to gain important information. In phishing, malicious links and attachments are sent but in pretexting, hackers call their target too in order to steal information.