You’ll have heard the terms “data breach” and “data leak”, but what are their meanings? Breaches happen all the time: here’s what you need to know.
Data breaches are commonplace around the world, but what exactly are they? What is the true definition of a data breach?
What Is a Data Breach?
Data breaches can come in a variety of forms, and can take place for a number of reasons. So, let’s start with a super-concise definition of a data breach (or data leak).
A data breach involves the unauthorized transmission or theft of private data.
This kind of data retrieval can be incredibly harmful, and can affect anyone, from individuals to huge organizations. Some data breaches can even be entirely accidental! Over 1,000 data breaches took place in the U.S alone in 2020, with some being very large-scale and damaging.
There are a number of factors that play into increasing the likelihood of a data breach. New technologies, a lack of security features, and human error are all common culprits. And, given how much more connected we are all becoming year after year, cybercriminals are finding more ways to get their hands on private data. Cloud storage, in particular, has opened a door for online attackers, giving them another way to access data.
Phishing and malware are often used to retrieve data illegally, but some breaches can take place through the physical theft of devices, on which the desired data is stored. On top of this, a large proportion of data breaches are carried out by individuals or groups that already have inside access to an organization.
You may have read about data breaches in the news. Many large companies have suffered from these potentially catastrophic events, including Adobe, LinkedIn, and Yahoo.
The kind of data that can be stolen via a breach also varies. Personal data breaches are highly common, wherein passwords, payment information, and even social security numbers can be taken. But financial and security data is also known to be a target of attackers.
Data Breaches Are Worryingly Normal Now
As technology continues to become an increasingly vital part of our lives, more cracks form that can be exploited by malicious parties. This is why it’s crucial to be vigilant over how you handle your data, and that you do what you can to keep it safe.
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