5 Cybersecurity Tips to Prevent Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches

As with most cyber attacks, the best way to protect against data breaches is to prevent them from happening in the first place. You need to understand them before a data breach can be prevented. ‍Cybersecurity breaches have continued to rise, and it’s expected to grow to 15.4 million by 2023. Data breaches occur once cybercriminals gain access to data and sensitive information, which can come at an incredible cost, including ​​a loss in revenue, productivity disruption, stolen customer data, and reputational damage. This article will discuss the consequences of businesses falling victim to a data breach and tips to stay safe online. 

Consequences of a Data Breach

In a data breach, secure data is intentionally or unintentionally revealed to an unknown environment. The compromised information is released without authorization by several attack methods such as hacking, malware, ransomware, vulnerable network systems, weak security measures, improper disposal of data-storing devices, or lack of staff training.

The data may be private information belonging to an organization, company, or individual level, including sensitive details such as credit or debit numbers, bank account numbers, user passwords and login credentials, and other forms of personally identifiable information (PII). 

Cybercriminals tend to follow a basic pattern when targeting an organization. Researching their victims can discover vulnerabilities, like failed updates and employee susceptibility to phishing campaigns.

Common vulnerabilities targeted by malicious criminals include:

  • Weak or stolen credentials: Most data breaches result from stolen or weak credentials. Most users reuse passwords, making it easy for cybercriminals to use brute force attacks to gain entrance to emails, websites, bank accounts, and other personal or financial information sources.
  • Compromised assets: Various malware attacks are used to negate regular authentication steps that would normally protect a computer.
  • Third-party access: Cybercriminals may sometimes use third-party vendors to gain access to your system despite your best efforts.
  • Mobile Devices: Users using unsecured devices may download apps infected with malware, allowing hackers to steal data stored on the device, often including work email and files and the owner’s PII.

How Data Breaches Happen?

A survey conducted in 2020 found that the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million, as well as loss in productivity and reputational damage. It took 280 days to identify and effectively contain a breach on average. 76% of users said remote work brought on by the pandemic increased the time to identify breaches, leading to roughly an additional $137,000 cost per breach. 

AI and incident response preparedness teams are two high-level security measures you can take to prevent a data breach. However, small businesses, who tend to lack the necessary funding to fulfill IT requirements, and those looking to learn more about preventing breaches should be aware of the following: 

  • Physical actions: Cybercriminals don’t only access data remotely, often stealing hard copies of paperwork, laptops, phones, or storage devices, as well as copying physical information without anyone knowing.
  • Social engineering: Phishing is when cybercriminals send authentic-looking emails to access sensitive data. These scams help malicious actors steal confidential information to either sell or use to commit fraud. 
  • Human error: Only 52% of breaches are caused by malicious attacks. Users sometimes leave sensitive information unprotected or accidentally send it to the wrong contact.

Tips For Preventing An Attack

With sensitive data at risk, you can reduce cybersecurity risk by implementing these practical strategies:

  • Limit access to your most valuable data. This restricts the number of employees who might accidentally click on a harmful link.
  • Encrypt your data and create backups. Data encryption limits access to those with the encryption key while ensuring that even when unauthorized parties gain access, they can’t read it.
  • Conduct regular employee training. Over 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent globally, containing malware embedded in links that give hackers access to user data, including login credentials. Cybersecurity awareness training educates employees on the main forms of cybersecurity attacks and the best ways to prevent them.
  • Develop a cyber breach response plan. A comprehensive breach preparedness plan enables employees and employers to be aware of potential damages. Your response plan should begin with an evaluation of exactly what was lost and when, who is responsible, limit damages and restore public and employee trust.
  • Hire an expert. Consider hiring a security expert, or have a consultation on best practices to help you prevent a data breach.

The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, data breaches are becoming more common; hackers look for new and effective ways to steal information. Data breaches can affect businesses of all sizes regardless of industry and can be very frustrating because of the damages they cause. Because of this, it is crucial to be aware of data breach prevention best practices to ensure that your data is safe.