How To Prevent a Cybersecurity Data Breach With Meriplex

Cybersecurity data breaches cost U.S. companies millions each year in direct and indirect costs. In most of these security incidents, hackers use known vulnerabilities and social engineering methods to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. Once this personal data and financial information is in their hands, these cybercriminals can drain bank accounts, steal credit card numbers, compromise social security numbers, sell sensitive data, and cause severe damage to your company’s reputation. Understanding what a data breach is and how cyber attacks occur can help you to avoid security incidents that could affect the future of your business operations.


May 18, 2023

Defining a Data Breach

A data breach is any incident of unauthorized access to confidential, proprietary, or personal data that resides on company servers, networks, or devices. Hackers typically gain access to these IT assets by exploiting vulnerabilities in firewalls and antivirus protections. In some cases, malware or ransomware may be installed remotely by these cybercriminals or by unwitting members of your staff.

Social engineering attacks are targeted at employees and may include phishing attempts that invite company insiders to click on links or download malware to their computers. Educating your staff members to watch for suspicious activity and to identify data security threats in emails, phone calls, and other direct communications is the best way to prevent phishing and other social engineering attacks on your corporate networks, servers, and endpoints.

The Staggering Cost of Data Breaches

According to the IT team at IBM, the average cost of a data breach in 2022 was $9.44 million in the United States and $4.35 million globally. The highest costs of these security incidents were reported in the healthcare sector with an average of $10.1 million per breach in this industry. In some cases, companies may be subject to fines by government agencies if they fail to institute adequate network security, robust security policies, and effective data protection measures for customer and patient information.

Why Do Data Breaches Occur?

Data breach incidents can occur for a variety of reasons. Six of the most common contributing factors to security breaches are listed here:

  1. Hackers represent the number one cybersecurity threat to businesses and the top reason for data breach incidents. These cybercriminals can use malware, stolen login credentials, ransomware, or SQL injection techniques to gain access.
  2. Mistakes are responsible for about one-fifth of all data breaches. Transmitting sensitive data to the wrong destination or failing to configure databases and authentication protocols properly can result in security incidents that lead to identity theft, data loss, leaked credit card information, or compromised personally identifiable information (PII).
  3. Social engineering and phishing account for another 20 to 25 percent of all data breaches. Financial pretexting by phone or email can sometimes fool individuals into revealing sensitive personal data or confidential information about your company’s finances.
  4. Malware may include keyloggers and RAM scrapers that allow hackers to gain unauthorized access to your networks and the information that resides on them.
  5. Unauthorized use and access by company insiders are responsible for less than 10 percent of all security breaches. Improper use of data to which the staff members have legitimate access and mishandling of data by unauthorized staff members are both included in this category.
  6. Direct access to endpoints like laptops, tablets, and other devices can also result in unauthorized access to your company’s data. These types of breaches, however, are usually limited in scope. For devices with access to sensitive data, however, tracking and monitoring can often reduce the risk of these issues for your company.

Examples of Major Data Breach Incidents

Major data breaches have been reported by the U.S. government and many major companies. Some of the most publicized security incidents are listed here:

  • In 2015, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management discovered that the personnel data of 4.2 million former and current government employees had been stolen.
  • T-Mobile has reported two data breaches in 2023, one of which affected about 37 million accounts.
  • In June 2021, more than 700 million users of LinkedIn had their data stolen and posted on the dark web.
  • Facebook reported in April 2019 that the phone numbers, IDs, and account names of 530 million users had been exposed to the public.
  • In 2014, eBay announced that they were the victim of a cyber attack that compromised the personal information of 145 million users.

These data breaches demonstrate that even the largest companies and government agencies are not immune to the efforts of hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in networks, servers, and systems.

How Can You Protect Your Company From Data Breaches?

Implementing a robust set of security policies and monitoring your servers and networks for suspicious activity can go a long way toward preventing unauthorized access to customer data. Some of the most important strategies to consider are listed here:

  • Making sure your employees know the basics of cybersecurity and the warning signs of cyber attacks and social engineering strategies
  • Monitoring your systems and networks remotely to identify issues
  • Creating a plan for data backups and recovery of lost data
  • Storing your data securely both in digital and print form
  • Maintaining up-to-date antivirus protection for endpoints, servers, and networks
  • Encrypting data and requiring strong passwords for user accounts
  • Utilizing password managers (vaults)
  • Implementing strong security for tablets, mobile phones, and other corporate endpoint assets
  • Destroying outdated information both digitally and in print
  • Working with a managed services provider to access the experience and expertise necessary to keep your data secure

Preventing cyber attacks before they occur can help your company maintain its position in the competitive marketplace. Data breaches can cause serious damage to your company’s reputation among consumers, customers, and patients. By taking action now, you can reduce the chance that your company will experience a security breach incident in the future.

The Right Services for Your Needs

At Meriplex, we offer managed IT services that include cybersecurity solutions, identification of vulnerabilities in your current networks and services, and ongoing monitoring of all your systems. We can help you maintain a robust security posture in the modern online environment. To learn more about how we can help you prevent a data breach and other variations of cybercrime, contact us to set up a consultation with our experienced IT team. At Meriplex, we are here to help you.