It seems as though not a day goes by without a headline screaming that some organisation has experienced a data breach, putting the business – and its customers and partners – at risk.
To keep your own organisation out of the news, it’s important to understand the most common causes of data breaches and what you can do to mitigate the threats they present.
1. Weak and Stolen Credentials, a.k.a. Passwords
Hacking attacks may well be the most common cause of a data breach but it is often a weak or lost password that is the vulnerability that is being exploited by the opportunist hacker. Stats show that 4 in 5 breaches classified as a “hack” in 2012 were in-part caused by weak or lost (stolen) passwords!
2. Back Doors, Application Vulnerabilities
Why bother breaking the door down when the door is already open? Hackers love to exploit software applications which are poorly written or network systems which are poorly designed or implemented, they leave holes that they can crawl straight through to get directly at your data.
The use of both direct and in-direct Malware is on the rise. Malware is, by definition, malicious software: software loaded without intention that opens up access for a hacker to exploit a system and potentially other connected systems.
4. Social Engineering
As a hacker, why go to the hassle of creating your own access point to exploit when you can persuade others with a more legitimate claim to the much sought after data, to create it for you?
5. Too Many Permissions
Overly complex access permissions are a gift to a hacker. Businesses that don’t keep a tight rein on who has access to what within their organisation are likely to have either given the wrong permissions to the wrong people or have left out of date permissions around for a smiling hacker to exploit!
6. Insider Threats
The phrase “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” could not be any more relevant. The rogue employee, the disgruntled contractor or simply those not bright enough to know better have already been given permission to access your data; what’s stopping them copying, altering or stealing it?
7. Physical Attacks
Is your building safe and secure? Hackers don’t just sit in back bedrooms in far off lands, they have high visibility jackets and a strong line in plausible patter to enable them to work their way into your building and onto your computer systems.
8. Improper Configuration, User Error
Mistakes happen and errors are made.
Simple Solution: With the correct professionals in charge of securing your data and the relevant and robust processes and procedures in place to prevent user error, then mistakes and errors can be kept to a minimum and kept to those areas where they are less likely to lead to a major data breach.
For a more comprehensive explanation of all the information explained above, as well as a more detailed look at some of the ways to prevent your business from falling foul of these common causes of data breaches, read Information Weeks The 8 most common causes of data breach.