How Do Data Breaches Happen and What Gets Stolen?

It’s pertinent that you make sure your data is safe. Companies are also supposed to make sure your data stays out of the hands of identity thieves.

Because of the many large company data breaches in recent years, companies not only have to tell you that they’ve been hacked, but they may have to pay fines if they allow a data breach. Adobe, Macy’s, Reddit, Bloomingdales, Equifax and Target are just some of the large companies that have experienced data breaches.

A data breach happens when a criminal hacks into a data source and steals private and / or sensitive information. A data thief who works for a company could access the computer system or paper filings, or an outside data thief could hack into a business’s computer system and steal digital data.

How Do Data Breaches Happen?

In today’s day and age, you would think that data breaches would be a thing of the past. How do data breaches happen? Fifty-two percent of the data breaches are because of human error or fault. In these cases, more often than not, it is because the company does not give the employees enough training on security measures.

In other cases, employees could download malware – even with a strong firewall and the best malware scanner, new malware could get through if employees are surfing or if an employee opens an email that a criminal sends with the intent on installing malware.

Finally, you have the old-fashioned physical theft of data. Someone could steal a company computer or steal an employee’s personal computer if that employee logs into the work servers from home. And, you could have an imposter in your company who got hired with the intent to steal data, or someone who had no intention of stealing data, but developed a grudge against the company.

What Gets Stolen in Data Breaches?

Any data stored on hard drives, servers and even in filing cabinets can fall into the hands of data thieves. What gets stolen in data breaches includes names, addresses, passport numbers, social security numbers, birth dates, medical records and financial records. For example, in a Capital One data breach, 140,000 social security numbers, about 1 million Canadian Social Insurance Numbers, and 80,000 bank account numbers were stolen. In other data breaches, thieves stole driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers.

According to LifeLock, 43.7 percent of the breaches are in the business sector, 35.6 percent in the healthcare and / or medical sector, 7.7 percent in the education sector, 7.3 percent in the banking / financial / credit sector, and 5.6 percent in the government and / or military sectors.

Prevent A Data Breach

You can prevent a data breach of your physical documents by keeping your files under lock and key, and only allowing certain employees to have access to the files. You can also minimize the chances of a data breach by using shredding services to shred documents as soon as they reach the end of their retainment schedule.

And, with digital data, you can prevent a data breach by shredding old hard drives and other digital media storage solutions, including USB storage and external hard drives. As soon as you back up the data from old digital storage media, you should shred the media. Additional steps to take to help prevent data theft include:

  • Encrypt sensitive data;

  • Update software as soon as updates are available;

  • Upgrading software that the manufacturer no longer supports;

  • Making sure all employees use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication;

  • Training all employees on data security; and

  • Enforcing security policies.

Contact Shred America for Shredding Services and Information Security

Contact Shred America to discuss our various shredding services and to set up a shredding schedule to protect your physical and digital data.