Data breaches and how to protect yourself

As technology advances and companies rely more and more on digital storage and data, the risk of data breaches has become a growing concern. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for companies’ databases to be breached, leaving sensitive information vulnerable to cybercriminals. 

In fact, according to a report by the Information Commissioners Office, there were over 6000 data security incidents from January to June 2022 alone, with more than 19 million records exposed. These breaches can have significant consequences for companies, including reputational damage, legal liabilities, and financial losses. 

One major factor contributing to the prevalence of data breaches is the growing sophistication of cybercriminals. Hackers use a variety of tactics, including phishing attacks, malware, and social engineering, to gain unauthorized access to databases. According to the Government Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, in 2022 of the 39% of UK businesses that identified an attack, the most common threat vector was phishing attempts (83%). Of the 39%, around one in five (21%) identified a more sophisticated attack type such as a denial of service, malware, or ransomware attack. Despite its low prevalence, organisations cited ransomware as a major threat, with 56% of businesses having a policy not to pay ransoms. Additionally, as companies collect more and more data, it becomes increasingly difficult to secure it all. 

Another factor is human error. Many data breaches occur as a result of employees accidentally or intentionally sharing sensitive information. For example, an employee might use a weak password, leave their computer unlocked, or accidentally send an email containing confidential information to the wrong person. 

Even companies that take extensive precautions to secure their databases can fall victim to data breaches. In some cases, cybercriminals can exploit vulnerabilities in software or hardware that the company is using, or gain access to data through a third-party service provider. 

Overall, it is clear that data breaches are a significant threat to companies of all sizes and industries. To mitigate this risk, companies must take steps to improve their cybersecurity practices, including regularly updating software and hardware, implementing strict access controls, and providing employee training on best practices for data security. By taking these measures, companies can better protect their databases and reduce the likelihood of a breach occurring. 

What can you do to protect yourself? 

It is especially important to change your passwords regularly and use a password manager for several reasons: 

  1. Security: Regular password changes and the use of a password manager can significantly increase the security of your online accounts, protecting you from potential data breaches and cyber-attacks. 
  1. Convenience: A password manager can help you create strong, unique passwords for each of your accounts, eliminating the need to remember multiple complex passwords. 
  1. Organisation: Using a password manager can help you keep track of all your login credentials in one place, making it easier to manage and update your passwords as needed. 

Overall, changing your passwords regularly and using a password manager can improve your online security and make your digital life more convenient and organised. 

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Adam Cooke
Adam Cooke
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