Data breaches are events where certain confidential information is accessed without proper authorization. this goes further by having copies of that data distributed. The average data breach in 2020 caused roughly 3.92 million (USD) in damages. The core concept of a data breach is the fact that data confidentiality has been compromised. Data breaches can happen for a myriad of reasons. First off, breaches occur due to malicious actors that target vulnerabilities present in our security posture. This could be through email phishing, social engineering, inefficient password strength, hacking, or a list of many other system vulnerabilities.  

To continue, another reason stems from the simple fact that humans make mistakes. Confidential information can be left up in an email in a public setting or a simple error can send off confidential data to a third party that shouldn’t be exposed to that information. The fallout of a data breach can have various consequences. Whether it’s taking confidential emails out of context to releasing sensitive data about our customers, which destroys confidence, prevention of data breaches is critical to normal operations. Confidentiality is important.

How to mitigate the risk of data breaches:

Have a plan to respond to breaches:

This may seem a bit contradictory, the point of this section of the article is to help prevent data breaches. Why would the first point be what to do in case of one? The answer is deceptively simple. To start, when you plan a response to data breaches you identify areas of improvement in your security posture and lay out definitive ways to correct them. For example, if the first step in reaction to a data breach is to figure out the source of the breach and close any vulnerabilities, you should then justify a reoccurring practice of testing your system for those vulnerabilities.

Learn the early signs of a breach:

Smaller attacks, like phishing attempts and DDOS attacks on your webservers, can indicate that you’re being targeted. For instance, these events can indicate an ongoing attack but it can also serve as an indicator of a potential data breach attempt. DDOS attacks are notorious at being indicators of later attacks. DDOS attacks can be a part of scanning/stress testing your in-place security measures and possible procedures/responses. Use the time to be proactive and attempt to patch security holes and look out for breaches.

Education is key:

A good way to mitigate data breach potentials is to educate those exposed to security vulnerabilities. Practicing good security policies is necessary for all across your workforce, not just those involved in computers or IT work. Social engineering is a real threat and if your workers don’t even know what that is then there’s not much they can do to protect themselves. Check out the articles on Phishing. Security posture, and Ransomware to learn about another subsets concerned with education

Use an endpoint security solution:

Sometimes education and mitigation policies aren’t enough to keep your data safe from data breaches. Use a utility that takes a more active approach at stopping data breaches, inside and out. Linked is an article about choosing an endpoint security solution. However, not every solution fits every company. In practice, having some outbound (for inside attacks/ human errors) and some inbound defenses can make all the difference in securing your data confidentiality.

Assign appropriate data access credentials:

Practicing the principle of least privilege allows for you to control the actual amount of vulnerable data in your organization. To start, if workers can only access their emails, or if they’re restricted to a very small subset of vital data, then a compromised account will have minimal data breach potential. This step overlaps with educating your workforce on the best cyber practices. However, a compromised account can still try to social engineer their way up the command chain, so stay vigilant.

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