Advances in technology have opened new doors for businesses. Access to information about potential markets and competitors has increased, allowing businesses to make evidence-based, strategic decisions. However, with these advances and widespread access comes potentially substantial consequences. Data breaches have proven to be an ongoing security risk for any organization. Whether you are running an established business or venturing into a new one, data breaches will always be a threat. Despite the increased security measures, here is why data breaches will get worse before they get better.
Security Measures Fail to Protect Against Employees
Most businesses perceive data breaches as an external threat – some nefarious hacker who steal consumer information for their gain. However, your network is also a threat to data security. Employees, administrators, and contractors have access to information and the potential to abuse that access. According to the SANS 2017 Insider Threat Study, 40 percent of surveyors identified the internal network as the biggest threat to data security. It is difficult to identify insider abuse when it is occurring, but it is almost impossible to prevent.
Businesses Are Incentivized to Collect More Data
As more devices connect to the internet, more information is available for gathering. Businesses collect data from consumers, partners, and social media sites. With almost 90 percent of consumers reporting that they'd rather be contacted via text messaging, collecting the phone numbers of potential buyers is practically mandatory in 2019. The data ends up stored in a database with functional deficiencies. Information is often recovered or backed up, but never deleted and often lack security measures such as encryption.
Breaches Are Becoming More Complex
Security measures are instituted to defend against data breaches. However, cyberattacks are progressively becoming more sophisticated. Attacks are not only breaching security measures but also becoming more difficult to remove. Furthermore, data breaches are no longer only a problem for IT, as these sophisticated cyberattacks can now impact every department. As the saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” With the right motivation, a committed hacker will figure a way into your network, no matter how strong your security measures are.
Human Error is Unavoidable
Regardless of how many security measures you implement, human error is essentially unavoidable. Mistakes are a normal part of life and present opportunities to learn. In the case of data breaches, these mistakes can have serious consequences. Human error is ranked as the top cause for data breaches, accounting for 52 percent of all root causes. Errors include having weak passwords, sharing account information, sending confidential information to wrong recipients, and falling for phishing scams. These are a few examples of how human errors can lead to breaches in security.
Device Theft is Common
Theft of devices containing sensitive information can compromise data security. Although it is considered not as threatening as complex cyberattacks or human error, theft gives others access to confidential information about your company. How severe the theft of a physical storage device is dependent on the contents of that device. Although thefts are considered less threatening, they are difficult to predict. Additional security measures to secure your data are needed to protect it in case your device is stolen.
Advances in technology have provided new opportunities for both businesses and hackers. Database technologies today are equipped with stronger encryption methods and are becoming more sophisticated, hindering the ability of outsiders to abuse data. Enhanced database controls are allowing businesses to share select data with select groups of people, minimizing the risk of internal data breaches. Understanding the nature of data breaches is the first step in preventing (and preparing) for them. Taking the time to institute a solid security system helps prevent the financial and social consequences that can permanently cripple your operations.
Justus Daniel Eapen is a policy level Organizational Transformation Consultant with over 25 years experience in Banking & Government.