What are the Methods of a Data Breach? | EasyDMARC

What are the Methods of a Data Breach?

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A data breach exposes confidential information to the public by the hand of a hacker with malicious intent. There are multiple data breach methods, but they all have one thing in common: Their goal is to disrupt a company’s ability to operate and serve its clients. Anyone can fall victim to a data breach. The best way to prevent these attacks is to be prepared with information about how to deal with them.

Your online identity is significant. Everything you do on the internet leaves an imprint that can be traced. Bad actors lurking in the shadows take advantage of this. Learning about cybersecurity makes a difference—if you want to keep your data safe. In the following blog post, we discuss how data breaches happen, and the most common data breach attack techniques used by cyberattackers.

Hacking/App Vulnerabilities/Back Doors

Many data breach attack techniques rely on the low defenses found in countless apps, websites, and systems. Hackers typically use these weaknesses as backdoors to force their way in and cause damage. Backdoors result from poorly written code or weak system defenses that attackers can exploit to bypass security and implement other forms of attack. 

Some of the most popular methods include Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, where attackers flood a website or app with multiple requests using many IP addresses—often with a botnet or “zombie” network.. These requests aim to overload the servers and deny access to actual users of the platform. 

There’s also the basic Denial-of-Service attack (DoS), mainly used on web-based front ends, especially those that take payments. This data breach method is a stress testing attack. It’s not as refined as DDoS since it comes from a single source, typically using TCP and UDP packets. It also increases the traffic on a website until it crashes, denying access to anyone accessing it. 

Malware or Viruses

The use of malware and viruses have always been standard data breach methods. Hackers can infect systems and devices with malicious software quite easily since it’s often disguised as a legitimate file, program, or attachment. The past two years of the pandemic saw a rise in malware attacks over corporate networks, with many employees working from home.

Malware and viruses are often sent via email; they get in your inbox just like regular mail. The malicious message seems ordinary but contains attached files or links loaded with malware or a virus. 

Similarly, drive-by downloads can automatically infect your system with malicious software when you visit a legitimate-looking website that’s actually compromised. Attackers also spread malware via social media posts, messaging apps, and devices like USB flash drives, smart devices, etc.    

Some of the best ways to prevent data loss only require paying attention to specific signs. Take a good look at strange emails and links. They may look normal, but there’s usually a tell-tale sign that something’s off.. Pay attention to the composition of the message or URL, and look for misspellings or writing mistakes. This basic data leak prevention advice can mitigate severe breaches.

Social Engineering

Social engineering covers a vast range of data breach methods, most of them based on manipulating human psychology to accomplish nefarious goals. The most popular social engineering attack is phishing, which relies heavily on email communication. 

The aim is to trick victims into completing tasks such as transferring funds or granting privileged access to data or networks. 

Some phishing attacks come with a greater level of complexity. It all boils down to the type of target the attacker is pursuing. These cyberattacks can go as far as creating mirror websites with seemingly legitimate links—such as your bank login page. If you fall for it, the hackers can steal your funds and harvest your personal data.

Human Factor

The human factor is used among the most common data breach methods. If you research how data breaches happen, you’ll notice specific patterns. Most reports indicate how attackers exploit weaknesses in software or systems—due to human error such as improper configuration, developer or operational oversights, weak passwords, and failures to update security measures. 

These backdoors are an open invitation for malicious actors. Sometimes, even insiders have little regard for their workplace and use the best breaching methods to exploit company vulnerabilities. This is when the importance of data loss prevention rears its head. 

Your company needs to know how data breaches happen. All your employees should be aware of network, internet, and email security best practices. Ensure they follow strict internal protocols like password hygiene, device control, privileged access principles, firewall and antivirus protection, and up-to-date cybersecurity awareness.

Weak Access Management

Cyberattackers can use data breach attack techniques to take advantage of weak access management on your company’s end. Your data should have restricted access based on the security clearances of each employee in your company. Someone who works in the HR department shouldn’t have access to financial data. If hackers detect a lax security configuration, they’ll exploit it for what it’s worth.

Your DLP security strategy needs to monitor all access to your data. You can solve this issue with data breach detection methods. Use automated tools to monitor who accesses which data at any given time. You can also set up alerts if someone tries to access something they’re not supposed to, and inquire about it later.

Physical Break-Ins

Physical break-ins implement classic data breach attack techniques. These attacks can happen after hardware from your company is stolen. It can be a smart device, a laptop, or even a USB flash containing sensitive data. These attacks go one step beyond since the attackers can disguise themselves as workers from the company or messengers to extract equipment or plant devices that help them commit fraud.

Final Thoughts

If the thought of someone accessing your data is scary, keep in mind that it’s easier than you can imagine. With so many data breach methods to implement, malicious actors online have numerous ways to get a hold of your private company information. Users rarely have a notion of how and when this happens. But they also have a great deal of power to prevent it. 

Do your research and learn what data loss prevention is. Read everything you can about DLP strategies. Make sure all employees in your company understand the dangers of data breaches, and conduct regular campaigns about data breach attack techniques. The more knowledge people have about data breach methods, the more they’ll be able to identify these attacks and put a stop to them.

Various authors from EasyDMARC teams have contributed to our blog during company's lifetime. This author brings everyone together.


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