Types of Data Breaches: A Modern-Day Data Theft

Last Updated on 7 months by Touhid

If you are investigating virtual security loopholes in your company, then you must have stumbled upon a data breach. It is a common term in Cyberworld and is highly associated with all types of cyber-attacks. So, if you want to know more about this and know about different types of data breaches, keep on reading!

A data breach is an instance where private, sensitive, or secret information is obtained or made public by uninvited parties. It can occur in many ways.

What is a Data Breach?

Simply said, a data breach is an incident where an unwanted party for instance hackers or unauthorized persons gets access to your private and confidential files.

A deliberate attack or an unintentional breach can result in data breaches. Numerous things can lead to these breaches, including employee carelessness, theft, hacking, cyberattacks, and unintentional disclosures.

According to research, over 234 million individuals were impacted by data breaches in 2023 till October compromising over 733 data. By selling the data or incorporating it into a larger assault, cybercriminals may benefit from the stolen data.

Individuals, companies, organizations, and governmental bodies can all be impacted by data breaches. Data breaches are especially expensive in highly regulated sectors such as healthcare and finance, where revealing personal information can lead to penalties and compensation from the government.

Types Of Data Breaches

Data breaches are cyber-attacks that can occur anytime and in any organization from small to big organizations. There are different types of data breaches such as password breaches, ransomware, phishing, malware, and keyloggers. The data can be sensitive such as login credentials, financial information, personal identification numbers, and corporate information.

As we know, data breaches can be either accidental or intentional. Data breaches can happen when hackers get unauthorized access to your system, or you have shared company information with others or on the internet.

Data breaches can’t be categorized in a single term, and it is a part of many different types of cyberattacks. The most common type of data breaches is defined as follows.

Different Types of Data Breaches

Ransomware

The most common type of data breach is ransomware which encrypts data belonging to an entity and demands a payment in exchange for the decryption key.

Hackers typically target important files, making them useless and putting businesses in a challenging situation.

Hence, companies who resist the attackers face the possibility of losing important data to competitors or having private information exposed, in this case paying the ransom is the only viable course of action.

XSS Attack

An attack known as Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) gives a hacker the opportunity to insert malicious code onto a website that other users are viewing.

This makes it possible for an attacker to get around the same origin policy, which separates various websites from one another. As a result, sensitive data can get exposed or have unapproved access.

Even though XSS attacks don’t really steal or exfiltrate data from a server, they do provide attackers the ability to run malicious scripts in the victim’s browser.

Malware attacks

Malware attacks are also a type of data breach; now traditionally malware attacks can be viruses, spyware, and more. But the primary target remains the same, that is data breach.

Malware is a kind of software that can be used for a number of malicious activities, such as fraud, network assaults, and the theft of personal data.

Malware may be spread by trickery, including posing as trustworthy software, hiding inside seemingly safe files, or even sending false emails with file attachments that, when opened, launch the malicious code.

Keyloggers

Another common types of data breaches is keyloggers which is a type of malicious software that is used to record what you are typing on your computer.

Using this they are easily able to obtain passwords, confidential details, and other private information as a result. In order to view the keystrokes entered in real-time, an attacker can also use a command-and-control network.

Keylogger is spying technology of data security breaches

DDoS Attack

Distributed denial of service or DDoS attacks are another very common types of data breaches. Here hackers try to overload the network with extra traffic and as a result, the network becomes unmanageable.

Using this kind of assault, they will make it hard for anybody to log into the system. Customers cannot utilize the company’s services if sites are inaccessible due to the result of the attack’s high traffic volume.

SQL injection

In SQL injection attacks, hackers send in malicious code that enters the system through SQL database rather than HTML as done through XSS attacks.

With this configuration, the hacker can shut down the database, access or edit its contents, or even run instructions on the operating system.

Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common cyber-attacking techniques used by hackers and is also a part of data breaches. Malicious actors that design incredibly realistic-looking websites are frequently the source of phishing assaults.

For example, they may imitate the look of popular services like PayPal, fooling people into entering their login information for what appears to be a valid purpose. But by doing this, you unintentionally give the attacker access to your login credentials.

Cybercriminals also use phishing to send out false emails that seem to be from reliable sources. The attacker takes possession of and makes use of the stolen data when recipients interact with these fraudulent communications by providing sensitive information.

Password Predictor

Passwords are what protect all your sensitive data and hackers often try to predict the password using various methods. This type of attack is known as brute force attack.

This attack technique entails attempting every potential value until the right one is found; therefore, it depends entirely on the attacker’s patience and raw computational ability.

Additionally, employees often make the mistake of writing the password in sticky notes which makes it easier for people to hack into systems.

Security Breach Vs Data Breach

Data Breach Security Breach
Key Structure Exposure or theft of private and personal data Compromise of security measures
Area Only specific to data theft The broader area consisting of all security measures
Effect  

Loss of data, invasion of privacy, and legal implications.

 

Harm to reputation, legal problems, and general security.
Examples Illegal network access, system control, and more. Theft of confidential data like passwords, credit card info, and more.

Security breaches and data breaches might seem the same in the first instance, but they are not the same and vary in many ways. Although data breaches are a subset of security breaches, security breaches are what lead to data breaches.

Key Structure

In a security breach, you are dealing with any illegal access that leads to an unauthorized gain of computer data, network, and device applications. A security breach also includes unauthorized access to other security-related systems or resources.

On the other hand, in a data breach, you will be dealing with unauthorized access to sensitive data only. Even though it is a part of the security breach, it only deals with the data part and ignores any other part of the security system.

Area

Security breaches work in a wider area and include a lot of individual components like weaknesses in the system, illegal access to networks, creating issues with configuration, and many more.

However, with data breaches the working area is much more confined and deals with data only. It only works with the target of either stealing sensitive data for money or for illegal exposure of these data in public.

Relationship

A data breach is particularly related to the unapproved access, disclosure, or pilferage of private and sensitive data. It focuses on security and data privacy issues and is one of the possible consequences of a security breach.

A security breach is one of the initial phases of a hostile intruder’s attack, which might include a hacker, cracker, or malicious program. It can include a range of cyberattacks, such as system vulnerabilities and network breaches.

Effects

A security breach can have a number of negative impacts, such as damaging the affected organization’s overall security picture. It involves breaching safety measures, unlawful access, and system weaknesses.

On the other hand, a data breach frequently leads to a privacy breach, exposing private information to uninvited parties. Those who are impacted may experience serious privacy intrusions as a result.

Why Do Data Breaches Happen?

By now you already know that different types of data breaches can be of many types, hence there are various ways this can happen. Keep on reading to know more about the common ways data breaches can happen.

Through Insider attack

One of the most common ways data breaches can happen is through an insider attack. This happens when an insider employee of the organization who has access to confidential files leaks information to the outside or to hackers for money. As a result, intruders get easy access to the sensitive data in your organization.

Lost or stolen device

Another common reason for data breaches is lost or stolen devices. If your devices contain sensitive information like your banking details, private files, and passwords then hackers can easily get access to these data.

Unwanted insider attack

Just like an insider attack, there can be unwanted insider attacks, and this works a bit differently. These types of insider attacks happen unwantedly or accidentally by an employee. For instance, they can send a private email to someone by mistake or download email attachments from unknown sources and more.

Data not protected

Systems and data are prone to attacks if safety protocols are weak or not properly enforced. This covers weak encryption, weak password rules, and weak access restrictions.

Not properly encrypted

A basic security measure that guarantees private data stays private and unreadable by unauthorized parties is encryption. So, when there is no encryption a serious security flaw exists regardless of whether the data is at rest or in transit.

Weak credentials

Weak password use is the main factor behind most data breaches. Your login and password become an open entrance to your network when malicious hackers obtain them. Furthermore, a lot of people repeat their passwords for several accounts, which makes it simpler for hackers to perform brute-force attacks to expose weaknesses.

How To Prevent Data Breaches?

Even though it is very hard to predict data breaches, taking prevention methods can help your organization dodge many of these malware attacks.

Educate your employees

One of the main reasons for data breaches is unwanted insider attacks, so educating your employees is the first step in educating your employees. Frequent training can help them understand the security loopholes through which data breaches can occur and prevent them.

Implementing AI automation

Implementing AI automation can help bring back the level of data breaches in an organization by a significant amount.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced analytics are used by technologies like SOAR, UEBA, EDR, and XDR to detect risks early on—even before they result in data breaches—and to offer automated tools that facilitate a quicker, more affordable response.

Perform regular security audits

Performing regular security audits is another way of preventing data breaches in an organization. An organization’s cybersecurity and cyber threats are thoroughly evaluated and analyzed during a cybersecurity audit. To stop flaws from being taken advantage of a cybersecurity audit aims to detect potential threats, vulnerabilities, and related mitigation solutions.

Use Strong Passwords

Weak passwords make your system vulnerable to potential cyberattacks. Thus, using stronger passwords is the first step in preventing data breaches.

Always use strong passwords and unique passwords for all of your accounts, and also enable multi-factor authentication if available.

FAQs

Data breaches are not something that you should take lightly so if you are still having some questions, keep on reading our FAQs below.

Are data breaches serious for individuals also?

Data breaches are not only serious for organizations but also for individuals. Hackers target both organizations and personal accounts; if they get access to your personal account, they can access your bank accounts, social media, and more. So, not only your private data will be exposed but you can also suffer from financial loss.

What to do if I suspect I am a victim of a data breach?

Take quick action if you think your data has been hacked. When feasible, use two-factor authentication, create strong, one-of-a-kind passwords, and keep a careful eye on your accounts to spot any fraudulent activity. Make sure your devices are free of malware by running scans and notify the appropriate authority about the event.

Can I predict data breaches beforehand?

Predicting data breaches beforehand is a very complex process due to the complexity and evolving procedure of data breaches. Using security evaluations, penetration tests, and threat assessment, vulnerabilities and potential threats can be found, but it is usually not possible to forecast the precise moment and mode of a data breach.

Final Words

Data breaches can lead to serious financial and reputation loss both for organizations and individuals. The best way to prevent it is to know about all the security loopholes in your organization and implement strong safety protocols to prevent them.

Also, never open email attachments from unknown sources, and make sure to have routine system checks to prevent any potential cyberattacks from happening.

In this post, we have discussed different types of data breaches such as password breaches, insider threat, keylogger, physical data breach, phishing and malware. Hope it will be helpful for you to protect your sensitive data from unauthorized access.

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