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Instances of data breach incidents are on the rise as many organisations are unwittingly committing similar errors that have caused some of the most significant data breaches in history. Data breaches can have severe consequences for organisations, including loss of revenue, reputational damage, and legal penalties. Understanding the causes of data breaches is crucial in preventing them from occurring. Preventing such causes of data breaches requires a comprehensive understanding of the anatomy of a data breach event. Typically, cyberattack those results in a breach follow a five-phase pathway. Comprehending each phase of this pathway is crucial to prevent such incidents effectively.

Phishing Attack

A victim is targeted with an email that appears to be a critical message from a trustworthy source. These emails house malicious links to counterfeit web pages created to gather network credentials.

Account Compromise

Once targeted by a phishing attack, the victim executes the anticipated action, which might entail following a link to a website designed to pilfer network credentials or downloading a malicious file attachment. By doing so, cybercriminals are granted access to the victim’s computer remotely and leading to the compromise of the victim’s account. Ultimately, this access allows the attacker entry into the organisation’s network.

Lateral Movement

Upon infiltrating the network, hackers explore its layout by moving laterally. In some cases, they may remain inactive for several months, carefully monitoring internal operations and acquiring knowledge about user behaviour. Once sufficiently informed, the hackers utilise the previously obtained credentials to access deeper network regions. At this stage, the hackers also seek to obtain privileged credentials, which would provide them with unfettered access to sensitive data resources.

Privilege Escalation

Once cybercriminals locate and breach privileged credentials, they acquire deeper access to critical network areas only accessible through privileged accounts.

Data Exfiltration

Subsequently, upon identifying valuable data resources, cybercriminals execute a plan to establish backdoor connections to their servers using trojan malware. These servers, often called command and control servers, enable cybercriminals to transfer highly-sensitive data from the victim’s network surreptitiously.

How to Prevent Data Breaches

Cyber Awareness Training

One of the essential components of every cybersecurity program is its workforce. Irrespective of the magnitude of investments in security measures, the program’s effectiveness is futile if employees can be deceived into compromising the private network. Cybercriminals exploit this loophole by either phishing or engaging in social engineering.

In phishing, attackers send fraudulent emails that appear to be from reliable sources to coerce the recipient into revealing confidential information. Social engineering attacks employ emotional manipulation to force victims into divulging sensitive information. These attacks could transpire via email, phone or even in person.

Data breaches that arise from compromised employees are not the result of sophisticated strategies by internal threats. Instead, they happen because employees lack the knowledge to identify and respond to cyber threats. Cyber awareness training can better equip employees to avoid falling victim to phishing attempts. If executed effectively, this effort could protect businesses from the most prevalent cause of global data breaches.

Email Authentication

Email authentication serves as a technical measure to establish the legitimacy of an email and prevent forgery. It offers a reliable means of verifying the actual sender of an email, enabling recipients to confirm that an email is indeed from its purported source. Email authentication is predominantly utilised to prevent the malicious or deceptive use of emails, including phishing and spam. By implementing email authentication, users can enhance their email security and protect themselves from the potential consequences of unauthorised or fraudulent emails.

How does it work?

Various methods can be utilised for email authentication, each with benefits and drawbacks. While the technical implementation may differ depending on the chosen approach, the underlying principle remains the same. Typically, the email authentication process involves a series of steps to establish an email’s authenticity.

  • Organisations set authentication policies to define email rules.
  • Email senders set up their mail servers and other technical systems to apply these regulations.
  • Mail servers check incoming emails against domain rules for authentication.
  • Mail servers that receive emails employ the results of the authentication to decide whether to deliver, flag or refuse to deliver messages.

Threat Detection

Threat detection and identification are crucial elements of a comprehensive security strategy, helping to prevent insider threats before they can cause harm. By leveraging advanced technology and human observation, organisations can quickly identify concerning behaviours and proactively address potential risks. While not every person experiencing stress or difficulty will pose a threat, it is essential to remain vigilant and aware of any changes in behaviour that could signal a potential issue. With the right tools and strategies in place, organisations can effectively mitigate the risks associated with insider threats and keep their data and assets secure.

Cyber-Risk Management

Effective cyber risk management is critical to prevent data breaches. Cyber-risk management involves identifying, analysing, and mitigating potential threats to an organisation’s information systems and data. A comprehensive risk management strategy includes regular risk assessments, vulnerability testing, and continuous network and system activity monitoring. The aforementioned helps identify potential weaknesses and provides opportunities to apply security measures to mitigate the risks. With a proactive and comprehensive approach to cyber-risk management, organisations can better prevent data breaches and protect their sensitive information.

Data Discovery & Security

Data discovery and security play a crucial role in preventing data breaches. By discovering and analysing large amounts of data within an organisation, identification of potential vulnerabilities and threats are possible, enabling the implementation of proactive measures to mitigate risks. By understanding the location of stored sensitive data and who has access to it, organisations can establish more robust security controls, such as encryption, access controls, and data classification, to protect against unauthorised access or disclosure. Data discovery can also help organisations identify potential anomalies and suspicious patterns that may indicate an ongoing breach or cyber attack. This allows them to take immediate action to contain and remediate the situation. Therefore, a comprehensive data discovery and security strategy is critical to protecting sensitive information and preventing data breaches.

Keep Your Data Secure with Green Method

Being a prominent cyber security firm in UAE, Green Method specialises in helping organisations safeguard their valuable data against potential breaches. By leveraging the latest technologies and methodologies, the company helps clients identify vulnerabilities, assess risks, and implement adequate security measures to protect against cyber-attacks.

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