Blog Post April 7, 2021

Data Breaches: Uncovering the Known and the Unknown

Data Breaches: Uncovering the Known and the Unknown

Imagine trusting a company enough to give them access to your personal information, only to find out it was compromised during a data breach. Do you know where your information goes once it has been breached? Are you educated on how to protect yourself or your organization from cybercriminals? If the answer is no, you’re reading the right article.

We know that data breaches are dangerous, but just how harmful or expensive can they be? Simply put, data breaches have the power to take down an entire organization and its surrounding community. According to the Ponemon Institute, the average total cost of a data breach in the United States in 2020 was $8.64 million. As a result, this means that not only is your sensitive information at stake, but capital, company investments, and budgets are vulnerable as well.

In this article, we will uncover the reality behind data breaches. We will gain a deeper understanding of what happens after a breach occurs, prevention, and the vital role cybersecurity plays in all of this.

The Ripple Effects of a Breach

When a company is breached, it can result in fines, lawsuits, and brand reputation loss with customers, partners, and employees. In 2019, an estimated 15 billion personal records were lost, and by the beginning of Q4 of 2020, an estimated 36 billion were compromised. These breaches include information like first/last name, address, phone number, usernames, passwords, etc. Even answers to many knowledge-based authentication (KBA) questions have been compromised. (e.g., what was the make and model of your first car?). Because so many different companies rely on this type of data to identify their customers, a single breach can have widespread ramifications for companies that were not breached.

While criminals can use this data to perpetrate a variety of crimes at other companies, two of the fastest-growing are account takeover (ATO) and synthetic identity fraud. Because many people use the same password for multiple accounts or recycle passwords, criminals can use stolen usernames and passwords to takeover numerous accounts. Alternately, they can use stolen KBA questions/answers to pose as a consumer, reset their password, and takeover the account. It is estimated that ATO has risen 650% in Q1 alone.  While this number may be troubling, criminals are limited by the number of real accounts.

To circumvent the limitations of account takeover, criminals have begun making an account for entirely factious people to commit crimes. Synthetic identity fraud occurs when criminals combine fictitious and factual information to create new identities. They can then use these identities to steal a variety of goods and services. If the identity is ever flagged as fraudulent, the criminal simply abandons it and makes another. As long as breaches continue to occur, synthetic identity fraud is the crime without limit.

Cybersecurity is the Solution

The truth is that data breaches impact both consumers and businesses; however, businesses play the most critical role in prevention. In today’s market, organizations have an increased demand for cybersecurity solutions to reduce IT teams’ capacity concerns and add firmer security layers, making it harder for cybercriminals to breach networks successfully.

A Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platform is the best possible cybersecurity solution. As the number of data breaches continues to grow, SIEM platforms are evolving to prevent and expose vulnerabilities, attacks, criminals, and other cybersecurity threats. If your business is looking to invest in a cybersecurity solution, this section will provide a deeper understanding of key Next-Gen SIEM features:

  1. User & Entity Behavior Analytics (UEBA): The platform should consist of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, which analyze account-based threats and write your SIEM rules.
  2. Privilege Abuse and Account Takeover Prevention: The platform should use artificial intelligence to detect both known and unknown threats. Make sure it can explicitly look for and determine insider threats, account takeovers, and privilege abuse or misuse.
  3. One-Touch Compliance Reporting: The platform should give you the ability to download compliance reports in seconds or schedule and deliver them to your inbox on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis.
  4. Managed Compliance, Detection, and Response (MCDR): Look for a SIEM that includes a 24/7 Security Operations Center (SOC) service. It should offer a managed service for your SIEM platform to quickly enhance your organization’s threat detection and response times.
  5. 24/7 Search for Compromised/Leaked Accounts on the Deep and Dark Web: The platform should allow you to extend your defensive capabilities beyond firewalls, endpoints, and security devices into Russian ID theft forums and the criminal underground.
  6. No Data Limits: An ideal SIEM should allow you to ingest as much data as needed and at no extra cost.
  7. Easy Deployment: Getting your platform up and running should be a fast and seamless process. Consider platforms that can deploy in 90 minutes or less.

To combat potential threats, demanding these features out of your cybersecurity solution should be non-negotiable. Cybercriminals are becoming more creative with their attack methods, which means organizations, big and small, need to ensure their security posture is in the best possible shape.

Prevention is the Answer

The key to building a better cybersecurity experience is rooted in the relationship between a Next-Gen platform and its users. As a consumer, when it comes to data breaches, the first thing that should come to mind is prevention. Here are a few recommendations for protecting yourself from cybercriminals who have mastered the art of bypassing the top network defenses:

  1. Use Multi-Factor Authentication: This will provide extra layers of security (e.g., security code texts, security questions, security puzzles, and more).
  2. Don’t Trust Unknown Emails, Links, Images, and Attachments: These create the perfect opportunities for intruders to gain entry and execute their plan of attack. The bottom line is, do not open or click on anything unfamiliar. Phishing emails are a common type of cyberattack used to gain access to your personal information.
  3. Avoid Weak Password Reuse: A weak password is the perfect entry point for cybercriminals. At a minimum, a strong password should contain 8-12 characters long and include numbers, letters, and special characters. Avoid using the same password for all of your accounts to reduce your chances of being breached by malicious intruders.
  4. Monitor Your Accounts Closely: Staying on top of your account activity is essential because you are more likely to catch any suspicious behavior head-on.
  5. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi: You should only sign-in to your accounts when connected to trusted, private networks only. This will decrease hackers’ chances of gaining access to your personal information/login information.
  6. Combine usability with security: New authentication methods like biometric capture can make authentication as simple as scanning your finger or taking a selfie. Unlike KBA, it is much more difficult for criminals to phish and reuse biometrics. Companies should also exercise caution and work with experienced partners when deploying biometrics since biometrics cannot be reset if they are stolen.

The truth is that businesses and consumers are responsible for protecting their networks, servers, and personal and professional information. By following these few steps and tips, you can help prevent cybercriminals from accessing your personal information and your organization’s network.

Building a Secure Cyberworld Together

The takeaway here is that businesses need consumer cooperation to uphold their cybersecurity posture, and consumers need businesses to ensure their security policies, protocols, and platforms will defend their information. Cultivating a trustworthy relationship is the best way to prevent data breaches. Breaches in data come with extra baggage, which can take business years to unpack. Consequently, there are tremendous potential consequences of a breach involving sensitive personal information, like biometrics, used for identity authentication and account access. It is essential to maintain robust risk-management practices that balance data protection and network defenses with usability.

There is a more substantial chance of combatting data breaches if everyone does their part. Finding the perfect prevention formula is based upon your organization’s prioritization of cybersecurity and improving its posture.

About Adlumin

Adlumin Inc. is the latest advanced security and compliance automation platform built for corporate organizations that demand innovative cybersecurity solutions and easy-to-use, comprehensive reporting tools. The Adlumin team has a passion for technology and solving the most challenging problems through the targeted application of data science and compliance integration. Our mission is to “add luminosity” or visibility to every customer’s enterprise network through real-time threat detection, analysis, and response to ensure sensitive data remains secure.

About Trust Stamp

Trust Stamp is a global provider of AI-powered identity services for use in multiple sectors including banking and finance, regulatory compliance, government, real estate, communications, and humanitarian services. Its technology empowers organisations with biometric identity solutions that reduce fraud, protect personal data privacy, increase operational efficiency and reach a broader base of users worldwide through its unique data transformation and comparison capabilities.