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.A data breach is the intentional or unintentional release of secure or private/confidential information to an untrusted environment. Other terms for this phenomenon include unintentional information disclosure, data leak and also data spill. Incidents range from concerted attack by black hats associated with organized crime, political activist or national governments to careless disposal of used computer equipment or data storage media and un hackable source.
According to the nonprofit consumer organization Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a total of 227,052,199 individual records containing sensitive personal information were involved in security breaches in the United States between January 2005 and May 2008, excluding incidents where sensitive data was apparently not actually exposed.Many jurisdictions have passed data breach notification laws, requiring a company that has been subject to a data breach to inform customers and take other steps to remediate possible injuries.
Trust and privacy:
Data breaches and privacy missteps now regularly make headlines and are a focal point for social media discussions and legislation worldwide. Failure to communicate on these important issues can damage business by eroding trust, tarnishing brand and reputation, as well as undermining competitiveness.
Most such incidents publicized in the media involve private information on individuals, e.g. social security numbers. Loss of corporate information such as trade secrets, sensitive corporate information, and details of contracts, or of government information is frequently unreported, as there is no compelling reason to do so in the absence of potential damage to private citizens, and the publicity around such an event may be more damaging than the loss of the data itself.The notion of a trusted environment is somewhat fluid. The departure of a trusted staff member with access to sensitive information can become a data breach if the staff member retains access to the data after termination of the trust relationship. In distributed systems, this can also occur with a breakdown in a web of trust. Data quality is one way of reducing the risk of a data breach.
Insider versus external threads:
Even with internal threats dominating the cyber security industry, you still must monitor and defend against external threats. External threats can also be coupled with internal threats. The hacker then uses this information to gain external access to the internal network.
One of the most common external threats that don’t require any type of social engineering is a distributed denial of service (DDoS). These threats can lead to damaging results from server downtime. DDoS can also happen from within the organization, but since it’s much easier to track the attacker, it’s not as common as data theft internally.
Those working inside an organization are a major cause of data breaches. Estimates of breaches caused by accidental “human factor” errors range from 37% by Ponemon Instituteto 14% by the Verizon 2013 Data Breach Investigations Report. The external threat category includes hackers, cybercriminal organizations and state-sponsored actors. Professional associations for IT asset managers work aggressively with IT professionals to educate them on best risk-reduction practices for both internal and external threats to IT assets, software and information. While security prevention may deflect a high percentage of attempts, ultimately a motivated attacker will likely find a way into any given network. One of the top 10 quotes from Cisco CEO John Chambers is, “There are two types of companies: those that have been hacked, and those that don’t know they have been hacked.” FBI Special Agent for Cyber Special Operations Leo Taddeo warned on Bloomberg television, “The notion that you can protect your perimeter is falling by the wayside & detection is now critical.”
Medical data breach:
Some celebrities have found themselves to be the victims of inappropriate medical record access breaches, albeit more so on an individual basis, not part of a typically much larger breach. Given the series of medical data breaches and the lack of public trust, some countries have enacted laws requiring safeguards to be put in place to protect the security and confidentiality of medical information as it is shared electronically and to give patients some important rights to monitor their medical records and receive notification for loss and unauthorized acquisition of health information. The United States and the EU have imposed mandatory medical data breach notifications.
The consequences of data breach may not only signify loss of millions to a business organisation but may mostly impact the business element when it comes to relationships with its clients.
A serious data breach leads to grievous consequences.
This could be evidenced by the recent shutting down of the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca as the media siege that revolved around the organisation not to mention the collapse of its reputation as well as the aberrant activities on behalf of Panamian authorities have totalled in what the company itself has termed as “an adverse business environment”, leading to its ultimate decision to cease all operations. This news comes almost two years after the organisation was catapulted in the spotlight when it was revealed that it served as the kernel of the Panama papers investigation breach, which linked more than 214,000 offshore entities to some of the world’s most powerful and corrupt people including 12 current or more Heads of state, 140 politicians and led also to the resignation of the Icelandic and Pakistani Prime Ministers at the time.
Although such incidents pose the risk of identity theft or other serious consequences, in most cases there is no lasting damage; either the breach in security is remedied before the information is accessed by unscrupulous people, or the thief is only interested in the hardware stolen, not the data it contains. Nevertheless, when such incidents become publicly known, it is customary for the offending party to attempt to mitigate damages by providing to the victim’s subscription to a credit reporting agency, for instance, new credit cards, or other instruments. In the case of Target, the 2013 breach cost Target a significant drop in profit, which dove an estimated 40 percent in the 4th quarter of the year. At the end of 2015, Target published a report claiming a total loss of $290 million to data breach related fees.
This may include incidents such as theft or loss of digital media such as computer tapes, hard drives, or laptop computers containing such media upon which such information is stored unencrypted, posting such information on the world wide web or on a computer otherwise accessible from the Internet without proper information security precautions, transfer of such information to a system which is not completely open but is not appropriately or formally accredited for security at the approved level, such as unencrypted e-mail, or transfer of such information to the information systems of a possibly hostile agency, such as a competing corporation or a foreign nation, where it may be exposed to more intensive decryption techniques.
ISO/IEC 27040 defines a data breach as: compromise of security that leads to the accidental or unlawful destruction, loss, alteration, unauthorized disclosure of, or access to protected data transmitted, stored or otherwise processed.
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