What Causes A Data Breach And How Can You Prevent Them?

What Causes A Data Breach And How Can You Prevent Them?

Data breaches affect many people daily, and it seems no one is safe from these leaks. Few things are more violating than having your personal details shared with random strangers on the web. This is especially true if that information can be used against you in the form of identity theft and ransomware attacks. So what causes these breaches, and how can businesses protect the data of their clients and employees?

In this article, we’ll look at how data breaches happen and how they affect businesses and individuals. We’ll also look at how they can be prevented by providing staff training, limiting access to data, and even using various types of proxies to add extra security to the network.

In this article about data breaches, we’ll be looking at the following topics:

  • What is a data breach?
  • How does a data breach happen?
  • Ways to prevent a data breach

What Is A Data Breach?

A data breach is when an unauthorized person shares, accesses, modifies, or changes sensitive information that they aren’t supposed to. This data often includes the personal details of employees, clients, and vendors, social security information, medical records, and financial information. In many cases, these leaks occur unintentionally. Statistics show that in the last year, 88% of breaches were caused by human error. This can be anything from an employee using weak passwords, having a note on their desk with their password, or even sending emails containing sensitive information to the wrong person.

However, some cyber criminals attempt and often succeed in stealing this sensitive information, which they can then use for nefarious purposes. These cybercriminals will use clever hacking techniques, physical theft, or carefully curated social engineering attacks to access confidential information.

How Does A Data Breach Happen?

As we stated, the most common way data breaches occur is because of user error. However, this isn’t the only way these leaks can happen. Here are a few more ways that a data breach can occur:

  • Weak or stolen credentials
  • Application and software vulnerabilities
  • Malware
  • Social engineering
  • Giving apps and platforms too many permissions
  • Insider threats
  • Physical attacks

What Damage Can A Data Breach Do?

Data breaches can have severe repercussions for businesses. They can lead to a loss in revenue, loss of reputation, and client trust. Not to mention that businesses can face penalties of up to 2% of their annual turnover if a breach occurs that could’ve been prevented. A data breach can severely cripple and even ruin a business.

Individuals whose information is leaked are also affected. Their data can be used against them in ransomware and identity theft attacks. These attacks can ruin their credit and financial security. The information can also be sold for other nefarious purposes.

Biggest Data Breaches To Date

Over the years, many data breaches have occurred, some affecting millions of people. In the first quarter of this year, the number of data breaches was already 14% higher than last year. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest data breaches recorded.


This breach occurred over a three-year span from 2013 – 2016 before finally being stopped. It affected 3 billion user accounts, making it the biggest reported data breach. The amount of media coverage received also makes this one of the most well-known breaches.

Collection #1

This leak occurred in 2019 and affected approximately 2.2 billion users. In the leak, users’ account details and passwords which led to subsequent breaches on other platforms.


This breach occurred in 2018, and the passwords and biometric information of 1.1 billion Indian citizens were stolen. This information included identity numbers, fingerprint scans, iris scans, names, gender, and even contact information.

Ways To Prevent A Data Breach

Here are a few ways that a data breach can be prevented.

Create A Data Breach Response Plan

Businesses need to ensure that they have an appropriate response plan in place for dealing with breaches. This plan should include the measures taken to prevent breaches and what should happen when a breach is detected to minimize the effects.

Employee Security Awareness Training

Employees should receive frequent training on security protocols to know how breaches occur, understand the security policies in place and know what to do if they suspect a breach or notice suspicious behavior.

Using A Proxy Service

A proxy service is a great way to protect your network from hackers. With The appropriate proxies in place, your network’s IP address will be hidden, and any hackers probing the allocated IP address will reach the proxy servers instead of the business network.

Limit Access To Data And Monitor Access

Not all employees need access to data all the time. Make sure to limit access to sensitive and confidential information to only the few who need it to conduct their work tasks. Also, monitor who accesses the information to ensure employees aren’t sharing access with unauthorized users.

Enforcing Strong Passwords, Access Controls, And Two Factor Authentication

Use passwords, access controls, and two-factor authentication to protect sensitive business data. Also, make sure to enforce the use of strong passwords that contain a combination of lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols.

Update Software

Software sometimes contains security vulnerabilities. The developers often address these when they notice them and fix them with an update. As such, it’s important to install updates as they’re released to prevent hackers from exploiting the vulnerability.

Final Thoughts

Data breaches are a common occurrence and can affect anyone. Businesses and individuals must take as many measures as possible to protect themselves from these leaks. Always be aware of what information you share online, use security measures such as proxy services and anti-virus programs, and update software to start protecting your data.