Data breaches have happened since the rise of the internet, but in some cases, it’s worse than people can imagine. For example, during the pandemic, the number of data breaches increased so much that nearly 125 million recordings occurred in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to Statista. Luckily, the number has tremendously decreased recently since employees have returned to their offices and businesses invested more financial resources in their IT departments.
However, besides being prepared for a potential system hack, it’s also essential to know what actually happens during a data breach. Sometimes, it’s easy to get carried away with work and not notice subtle changes in the company’s system. Therefore, we’ll briefly discuss some of the warning signs you should be aware of during a data breach.
Slow internet or devices
From time to time, having issues with the Internet connection or a bug with your computer is acceptable, but when it comes to prolonged internet problems, it is a silent sign of a data breach. While you may overlook this aspect, it’s better to check it with the IT department and make sure what you’re avoiding is not a sign of malware.
If you make the right security investments, your security policy and end-user programs should be able to report any unusual activity immediately and start an investigation on all devices that seem to have internet issues or are sluggish.
Locked user accounts
Similar to the previous issue, being unable to access your accounts can sometimes happen due to a human mistake. However, when multiple employees have the same problem, and it can’t seem to have a solution, this is clear proof that you’ve been breached. At this point, there’s not really much that your IT department can do other than review account access and password changes.
Another action that you can take is claim data breach compensation.
Most of the time, you can track the cause of locked user accounts. Usually, when passwords are weak and never change, it’s easier for hackers to get into a system and guess people’s passwords. As a preventive action, make sure all your employees use complex passwords and know the importance of keeping them safe.
Critical file alterations
This is one of the most apparent serious problems. When entering a company’s system, most cyber attackers can modify, delete or replace files within your network. It usually takes up to a few minutes, but it may not be that obvious, especially when it comes to older files. There’s also the case when you might ignore these modifications because there’s a difference between normal changes and the ones that are signaling
a data breach.
For example, a few years ago, Target, one of the biggest American retailers, ignored warning signs of a data breach reported through its threat-detection tool, leading to 70 million customers’ information being disclosed illicitly. Some say that companies have yet to learn when it comes to checking their systems regularly and devising security plans, which can be clearly seen in how prepared companies are when it comes to risk assessment.
Unusual system behavior
When dealing with a data breach, all computers are able to scan and detect malware infection automatically. But for that to happen, all devices would need to be packed with enough cybersecurity protection to function properly. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t invest correctly in cybersecurity, which leads to becoming an easy target for hackers.
During a data breach in a weak system, unusual things happen, such as the following:
- An unexplainable increase in pop-up messages unrelated to the company’s activity;
- Sudden computer or computer crashes, occurring more than once;
- Suspicious anti-virus warnings that don’t seem genuine;
- A more than usual slow browser
In some instances, these abnormalities can cause the device to continue running even after shutting down, which is a signal of active tampering. This needs to be immediately reported because this is an alarming issue.
Atypical administrative user activity
Compromised user accounts are way more dangerous than just being locked out of your account. This is an obvious sign that an internal or external threat has already entered the system. There are clear signs of this, such as:
- A history of viewing sensitive information;
- A high volume of database transactions;
- Sudden permission changes;
Technological barriers are critical, but employee training is not less essential. That’s because monitoring and prevention go hand in hand in these situations. If employees don’t learn about the basics of keeping data secure, monitoring cyber issues can be useless since there’s no action taken.
How can companies protect themselves against data breaches?
Data breaches and cyberattacks can have multiple forms, so it would be challenging to be prepared for any form of it. However, there are many ways in which your company could protect essential data. The first tip is to invest enough in cybersecurity because your IT department won’t be able to monitor these changes single-handedly. But other actions could also help you figure out a good security plan, such as the following:
- Restricting access to reduce vulnerabilities because if too many people have access to a system, this means there are higher chances for a data breach to occur;
- Performing frequent audits and re-evaluations regarding possible security practices, you may adopt or employees respecting protocols;
- Improving general security by approaching better system architecture, VPNs, traffic monitoring and restrictions;
- Training your employees to follow proper security practices, educating them on the most common cyber threats and establishing security protocols;
When dealing with cyber security, you need to accept that things change, and there are no chances of surviving a data breach if you can’t change your approaches. Therefore, you need to constantly look at what’s new in the world of cybersecurity and what ways hackers use now to break systems.
The signs of a data breach in a company can be more or less obvious. However, if you’re knowledgeable in this area and know what can happen, you’ll be able to rapidly recognise these signs and take action to minimise the potential negative outcomes.
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