Data Breaches That Can Affect Your Firm

The 2010s meant not only tremendous development in the data security industry, but it also constantly showed us how vulnerable the system could be. Ransomware attacks have increased considerably during the pandemic, when many employees switched to working remotely. And while this might have been every office worker’s dream, it also exposed data sprawl and cloud access to significant new threats.

Here are 6 most common data breaching issues – and what your company can do for protection.

Criminal Hacking

Criminal hacking is the leading cause of personal and company data breaches, and it comes in many forms, from malware to SQL injection (that is manipulating background data in order to gain access to information not meant to be displayed).

While there are a number of tasks that require skill and software knowledge to operate, white hat hackers have shown time and time again how easily someone can purchase a company’s credentials on the dark web and then use password-generating software to gain access.

Once the cyber criminal has hacked their way in, they can abuse the user’s credentials to collect further information. The “virtual loot” can be then sold on the dark web, or used to commit fraud and construct phishing scams. More about phishing in a second.

As further demonstrated by the article, virtual data rooms are an essential tool in warding off cyber attacks while storing and sharing confidential business information. The best data rooms offer a wide range of user-friendly features such as advanced permission, watermarking, Q&A tools, as well as multiple factor authentication.

Physical Actions

Of course, data breaches are not always the cyber crime mastermind infiltration we imagine. In fact, many incidents do not even involve technology at all.

Physical incidents such as stealing paperwork or devices such as phones, laptops or storage devices make up to 4% of data security-related issues and with working from home this only makes said devices more vulnerable.

Another old-school method to be on guard for is card skimming. A special device concealed into the ATM or card reader allows cyber crooks to harvest all necessary card details.

Unauthorised Use (Accidental Or Otherwise)

One in twelve data breaches are actually caused by improper information by a member of the company. This can happen by accident (if the company access controls are not properly set up and allowed an employee to stumble upon information he shouldn’t otherwise have access to) or through what is called “privilege abuse”, meaning the employee bypassed access policies.

Data mishandling is one of the main issues a company’s internal policy should take preemptive measures against, specifically appointing authorized personnel with different levels of security access.


Malware spread is also on the rise and cyber criminals are constantly competing with firewall systems. Most prominent malware types involve RAM scraping – which scans the memory of digital devices in order to collect sensitive information. Your local POS system is particularly vulnerable to this method.

Keylogging (softwares that captures the keys struck on the keyboard) remains a prevalent method of stealing password, PINs, card details or other sensitive information.

With more and more business being conducted over the smartphone – sometimes through unsecured wireless connections, protecting your gadget as well as your laptop is imperative. Luckily there are several trusted mobile security apps available to help with encryption and protection.

Social Engineering

“You have been disconnected, please enter your full name and card details in order to sign back in”. Does it raise a red flag? It should, because phishing fraud (malicious software disguised under legitimate company websites or pop-ups) are still a cyber criminal’s bread and butter.

But cyber security experts also warn about the dangers of pretexting. Pretexting also targets financial information, but rather than duplicating a legitimate website, they simply call the victim under false (credible) pretenses and request the information directly. This allows the fraudster to sell the data to a third party or impersonate the victim remotely in order to gain further access to their accounts.

Human Error

A wrong email address added into a CC can lead to valuable company information being distributed outside the firewall perimeter and making it more vulnerable to outside interference.

Misconfiguration of a sensitive information database is the most common cause of human error, considered by Verizon to make up to 22% of total data breach reported issues. In a world where the top most used password by far is a variation of the word “password” itself, this should not come as a surprise.

Educating yourself and your employees on the consequences of data breaches and taking the necessary measures against a hypothetical cyber attack will certainly protect your company.  Make sure to implement time-outs and timers on both your and your employees’ passwords, and keep all sensitive under double virtual lock. For every new hacking method there are also several new solutions. So keep yourself up to date!