What Is a Security Breach in the Workplace?

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security breach


Security Breach: types common in the workplace

The type of security breaches common in workplaces includes phishing scams and ransomware attacks. A security breach means cybercriminals have successfully found their way around your defences to achieve unauthorised access to your company’s computer systems. The attacker may be trying to access sensitive information, resulting in a data breach, or they may be trying to sabotage targeted networks and systems. 

With hackers constantly refining their break-in methods, businesses should be alert to many different types of attacks. Here are some common causes of cyber security breaches:

  • Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks aim to overwhelm a targeted server, service or network with more bandwidth than it can handle. Even if the interruption lasts only a short time, it can severely disrupt the functioning of your business. These types of attacks can be performed by botnets, a network of internet-connected computer devices that can be hijacked and programmed by a cybercriminal to work together for malicious means.
  • Ransomware is a type of malicious software or malware that hackers use to gain access to protected networks. Your employees might unwittingly open an email with an infected attachment or download an infected program. Company data is locked or encrypted, and the attackers demand a ransom payment to restore access. 
  • Phishing is a social engineering scam whereby attackers pose as a trusted person or company. When the message seems to come from a credible source, it’s easier to trick recipients into opening an email or clicking on a malicious link and unwittingly sharing sensitive data. 
  • Brute force attacks use trial and error tactics to guess passwords. The hacker may want access to an employee’s account as a gateway to confidential company information.

What are the consequences of security breaches?

While the consequences of a security breach are unlikely to be the same for any two companies, this is the kind of damage to expect:

  • Erosion of reputation, especially if customer data is compromised
  • Theft of intellectual property, harming competitive advantage
  • Financial loss from the cost of responding to the breach, including hiring security consultants
  • Potential monetary penalties for failure to comply with breach reporting and data privacy obligations
  • Operational disruption and increased customer turnover.

How can security breaches be prevented?

Through our lived experience, Equifax is helping businesses strengthen their security postures to prevent cyber-attacks and security breaches. A multi-billion-dollar rebuild of our global technology and business infrastructure has built our reputation as a leader in security, with a security-first culture firmly embedded into every aspect of our core business processes, people and technology. 

Here are six ways we recommend businesses protect against security breaches.

1. Make security hygiene a habit

Consistently enforce and update your security hygiene processes. Any system is a potential entry point for hackers, so be sure your procedures extend beyond business-critical assets. Classify your assets by importance and implement a multilayered strategy that includes backing up files, using multi-factor authentication and immediately applying security patches. 

2. Create an incident response plan

With a plan in place, your nominated decision makers can react quickly to contain the security breach and reduce the potential damage. Your plan should be simple, realistic, and actionable, focussing on the key actions that will have the most impact. It should also contain clear guidelines for communicating an incident internally and externally.

3. Engage employees with best practices

Educate employees about how to make intelligent decisions to defend against cyber threats. Cement these behaviours through KPIs and regular assessments. Keep targeting, tailoring and testing your messaging to ensure it doesn’t get lost among all the competing information and processes from other departments. 

4. Enforce strong password policies

Poor passwords can lead to security breaches, so it’s vital to have procedures in place to prevent passwords from being lost, stolen or cracked. Establish a password policy that discourages sharing and reusing of passwords among co-workers. The policy should spell out the best practices for making strong passwords. Use password managers and security best practices to reduce the risk of compromised passwords. 

5. Champion security from the top-down

Make it your mission to encourage senior leadership to understand the gravity of the cybercrime threat. Championing security as an enterprise-wide priority is easier with buy-in from the top. Conducting a threat assessment will help form a clearer picture of the danger. And be ready to make a solid business case for why cyber security investment is needed and why it is essential to have a coordinated enterprise-wide approach.

6. Test your processes

Use cyber attack simulation tools to gauge the impact of a security breach on your business applications, systems and interfaces. Stress-testing your processes will also help identify system vulnerabilities and process gaps before a breach occurs.

Equifax has a full suite of solutions for helping businesses become more cyber resilient. Book a demo with one of our experts to learn how our differentiated data, innovative analytics and advanced technology can help you better prepare for and protect against security breaches.

The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstance before acting on it, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a finance professional such as an adviser.

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