What to Know about a Data Breach: Definition, Types, Risk Factors and Prevention Measure


Every so often we hear news about a major data breach and a lot of times if it never happens to us, we either simply ignore that news or we are probably wondering what it is. If affected, data breaches can have a major negative impact on our lives. In any event where a company or an individual’s information is leaked and exposed this is considered a data breach. Technology becomes more and more a part of our lives and every day we add supplementary data online, information that can be stolen and sold or just publicly exposed. Bank accounts, credit card numbers, social security numbers, emails and passwords are all at the risk of being accessed and sold at your expense if the business or entity that holds that data is a target of a data breach. These institutions can be banks, colleges, corporations, hospitals and even government offices. This article explains data breaches, risk factors and prevention.

There is more than one type of data breaches, and “skimming” is one of them.

Skimming is a type of fraud where only minor amounts of money are taken at a time, and most individuals do not notice it. But the amounts add up if millions of accounts can be “skimmed” each day. A data breach can happen even if you do not have your credit card information shared with any place else than your bank. Credit and debit cards are getting more and more common since they are faster and easier to work with than cash but that comes at the cost of security. Being robbed for cash involves a physical contact and interference which many thieves avoid because they can be easily exposed and caught. Credit card information however, can be stolen without the actual robbery happening. Some POS (Point of Service) merchant devices have an external device installed to them without the knowledge of the business and with that the credit card information can be captured and recorded. With that, the thief can counterfeit another card or simply use the numbers on your card to make purchases or cash withdrawals in your name. In most cases, credit cards come with some type of insurance and fraud protection from the bank because using credit is not using your own money from the bank, therefore the thief steals from the bank and not from you. Banks have the necessary means to track down such an event. For debit cards however, banks are not that interested in recovering your money. You have little control over this since you can choose to use cash to pay for your bill instead of a card.

There are methods of breaching that you have no control over at all.

Electronic breaches are common among banks and healthcare systems where the attack occurs on the data that is either being processed, stored or transmitted. The data capture is accomplished by hackers who gain access to these networks and then steal the information stored or seize information being transferred or transmitted. Hackers can accomplish that both physically and remotely. In the first method, the thief accesses a local computer that is connected to the victim business network and can steal files stored on the local server, a method that is easier to accomplish but brings a higher risk with it. It is obvious that performing a crime in person raises the chances of being caught. Nowadays almost any place that handles money, has some type of security features in place and even a small convenience store will invest in security cameras to back up any suspicious activity even if found later. Banks not only have cameras but also security doors that lock automatically. if a threat is discovered locking the subject inside and where cameras are available, automatically captures a proof for the police to later investigate. That is why nowadays most cybernetic attacks happen remotely. Remote crime is simply harder to detect and follow up on by authorities.

With remote breaches, hackers can have enough time to get away if caught.

Depending on the level of knowledge a hacker has, sometimes they do not even have to worry about having to run away. They can use a method of connection known as a virtual private network which restricts the traces that can lead back to them and to further fortify that they might even use a combination of VPN’s. How a VPN works is that you access the internet connection of your computer to another computer that accesses the content you wish to find. These can be used by anyone who wants to boost their electronic anonymity since if they are to get attacked, the first component that is to be hacked is not the individual’s personal computer but the server or computer the VPN uses. Since VPN’s can be anywhere, tracing a potential attack a hacker commits over a VPN leads to the VPN’s server location and not to the hacker. While most of the job is done remotely, sometimes a little human interaction is necessary. The Cybercriminal can trick a company’s worker into giving their login credentials or even steal them without the victim knowing through a bait where the victim opens a malicious attachment to an email or website for example. “Bait clicks” are common now.

There are a few steps that can be taken in order to avoid or minimize your data being stolen.

Not everyone is technically inclined or knowledgeable enough to check if the services they use are secure enough or have vulnerabilities that can lead to an exposure of information or a data breach but there are a few things anyone can do to minimize the damage of a breach in case it happens. The first step and most obvious step is locking down a bank account if you misplaced your card or it was stolen. Next is sharing as little information as possible on social networks that can then be associated with bank accounts or hospital records so that hackers cannot create a profile with all of your data that can be later sold. There is a chance that your data might have been compromised without your knowledge. Personal data might be out there somewhere already leaked, but in order to stop a problem like this, it is crucial to find out where the personal data exists. A data breach reporting tool can look up everything that can be found about you, any kind of records and information under your name. OneRep was built for this purpose. The website’s tool can look through 103 people sites and remove the information it finds about you automatically. Lives are tragically ruined with money stolen from bank accounts, and credit and debit cards that are stored by outside entities each day. Noticing that a breach has occurred is not always immediate and recovering your personal monies is not always possible. Check where your info exists routinely and always ensure you do not click on any “bait” links or sites! And know the types of breaches, such as “skimming.” Check your bank balances and credit card statements religiously also. Knowledge is the power and prevention key for the most security.