Data breaches do not occur in just one or two countries. They occur worldwide
The recent string of data breaches in the United Kingdoms drive this point home. The most recent of those large breaches affected 156,959 TalkTalk customers.
Are cyber-attacks and data breaches on the rise in the United Kingdoms? Let’s explore some of the other large data breaches before taking a closer look at the nature of cyber attacks. We can then explore where these trends might lead.
The most recent cyber-attack in the United Kingdom was the aforementioned attack on TalkTalk. While four people have been arrested for their involvement in these attacks, TalkTalk has stayed quiet as to how these attacks happened.
Companies involved in cyber-attacks seldom disclose the details of the attacks. Carphone Warehouse, one of the United Kingdom’s larger mobile phone retailers, were involved in an attack that affected between 90,000 to 2.4 million people.
They still have not released details about the attack that happened in August of 2015.
Sony was involved in several cyber-attacks. The largest of these attacks occurred at the end of 2014. The details of over 47,000 Sony employees were stolen by hackers. Even more details about company secrets, including details of contracts and future films, were stolen.
No details were released about this attack. The only certainty is that countless digital files were destroyed as the result of these attacks.
The Result of Cyber-Attacks
The one common thread in these attacks is that each company suffered irreparable damage to both their reputation and their finances. Companies like TalkTalk and Carphone Warehouse may be required to pay millions in reparations to customers and credit card companies as the result of these attacks.
The one unique turn of events is that the Sony attack resulted in a marked jump in popularity for The Interview, a 2014 comedy film about assassinating the leader of North Korea. Analysts state that this film saw markedly more profits because of the controversy surrounding it.
How Do Cyber-Attacks and Data Breaches Occur?
Despite the fact that companies tend to keep their lips sealed about how cyber-attacks occur, there are some obvious (and often embarrassing) ways that these situations occur.
The most prominent is a lack of updates and security protocols. Hackers scan for vulnerable programs and ports to infiltrate. They often use published vulnerabilities that could otherwise be stopped by companies updating their technology or implementing better security policies.
The next most obvious way is through the use of social engineering. Even in the most secure environments, it can only take the password of one high-value business employee to gain access to the data of millions of customers.
The last way this can occur is by the transmission of unsecured data over unsecured lines. Unencrypted emails may be vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks, which allows a third-party to view data they should otherwise be unable to view. These attacks can be as simple as monitoring a business’s wireless traffic.
Preventing These Attacks and the Future of Online Data
There are three ways these attacks can be prevented: (1) by regularly updating software, (2) by implementing smarter security policies, and (3) by training employees to resist social engineering attacks.
While these measures may seem simple, cyber-attacks routinely become smarter. They evolve at a pace that is more rapid than security can update, as it only takes one small crack in security for massive amounts of data to be stolen.
Whilst not preventing an attack, a complete data recovery solution is advisable, should hackers get access to online data then at least it can be restored if it is deleted or tampered with. This requires additional work to not only backup the data regularly but also keep the backups secure from online data breaches. Large companies seeking solutions for backups and data recovery for personal and sensitive data should look for a specialist in RAID arrays and data recovery. This will cover the type of hardware they need to store large volumes of data.
The future of data breaches and cyber-attacks then points to two things: the frequency and reach of attacks will increase in the short term, and security will become more efficient at deterring attacks. Simple improvements like more encryption, safer security protocols, and smarter human beings will lead to the great threat of security breaches becoming little more than a minor nuisance in the future.