When running a business with the help of any digital solutions, it is vital to ensure your customers’ data protection to become a more reliable and trustworthy provider. Even though legal requirements for handling and protecting customers’ personal information vary from one country to another, it is crucial to make sure that your business meets all the necessary regulations.
General Data Protection Regulation from May 25, 2018, determines those requirements for the European Union. Before you can move to GDPR compliance consulting, it would be beneficial to find out what you are dealing with in the first place.
Below, you will find the details about types of information that can be stolen in a data breach, some most prominent examples of such incidents, and measures that can be taken to prevent them.
What Is a Data Breach?
According to TechTarget, a data breach is: “[…] a confirmed incident in which sensitive, confidential or otherwise protected data has been accessed and/or disclosed in an unauthorized fashion. Data breaches may involve personal health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets, or intellectual property.”
Personal information that can be stolen in a data breach includes names, addresses, telephone numbers, emails, passwords, credit card numbers, healthcare histories, and social security numbers. Cybercriminals can use these data for duplicating credit cards, identity theft, blackmailing, and more.
Valuable corporate information includes software source code, customers list and their personal information, and manufacturing processes. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is curated by the European Union and aims to handle and protect the customers’ data held by companies, organizations, businesses, and sole proprietors within the EU.
This set of regulations and legal obligations provides increased territorial scope, encompassing penalties for regulation violation, clear and concise consent, breach notifications for affected customers, access and deletion rights, and terms of data portability. Those measures allow ensuring the adequate protection of companies’ customer data to prevent data breaches.
The Biggest Data Breach Cases
Unfortunately, data breaches continue to happen, and in today’s world, news about a significant number of people affected by another data breach is unlikely to surprise anybody. Ironically, even cybersecurity vendors designed to protect firms from data breaches might get hit by a data breach themselves – as it happened to Imperva in 2019.
Still, it is hard to call it a “new normal,” as those cases are putting so many people at risk, and there can be no justification for that. Below, you will find some of the biggest data breaches the world has seen in the 21st century so far.
In 2018, the company announced a data breach of personal information of around a half-billion customers. Cybercriminals attacked the systems of Starwood hotel brands in 2014, remained in the system in 2016 when Marriott acquired Starwood and were not discovered until 2018.
Hackers stole the personal information of customers that includes contact and travel details, passport numbers, as well as credit card numbers, and expiration dates, without the possibility to determine if attackers decrypted these data.
In 2020, Sina Weibo, the Chinese alternative to Twitter, reported that 538 million user accounts were affected by a data breach that compromised their real names and usernames, emails, location and gender, and telephone numbers. Some of these details were available on dark web markets for sale. This case is under investigation by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
In 2013-2014 the company had experienced data breaches that were disclosed in 2016-2017. As a result, Yahoo revised that all of its three billion user accounts had been affected, making it the biggest data breach in history.
The compromised personal information includes real names and dates of birth, email addresses, passwords, security questions and answers, and telephone numbers.
Steps to Protect Your Business From a Data Breach
The first thing that needs to be done to prevent your company and your customers’ personal information from a data breach is to meet your legal requirements and ensure GDPR compliance. It is a complex subject that will require consulation and evaluation of your business’ current compliance state to determine the next steps for its further implementation.
Educating your employees on identifying possible cyber threats is equally important. Make sure to create protocols on how to handle a threat if it occurs and which red flags should be reported. Things like double-checking and deleting emails that look suspicious and verifying a sender before opening an attachment in an email should become automated habits.
It would also be beneficial to regularly implement security audits to identify any potential risks and vulnerabilities, as well as periodic software updates to avoid cyberattacks that exploit outdated security systems or networks. Create a disaster recovery plan and disclosure strategy for an immediate response to a discovered data breach in case it happens.
Data breaches have already become common in the modern world, and cybercriminals can attack even huge companies with billions of users. The primary purpose of such cyber threats is your customers’ data, such as credit card numbers and real names, which can be sold on dark web markets.
There is a set of cybersecurity measures that should be implemented to prevent a data breach in your company’s functioning. It includes not only filling the gaps in GDPR compliance but also providing your employees with all the needed tools and information for the urgent response.
Stay updated with all the insights.
Navigate news, 1 email day.
Subscribe to Qrius