Information Center

The 7 Most Common Types of Data Breaches and How They Affect Your Business

A data breach could ruin your brand – and your revenue. Let’s take a look at the most common types of data breaches and how they affect they business!

In the past few years, we’ve seen hundreds of attacks that have breached the privacy of millions of users. From hacks that have affected universities and their students, to breaches that have compromised information at hospitals, the list truly is limitless.

Types of Data Breaches

  1. Stolen Information

  2. Ransomware

  3. Password Guessing

  4. Recording Keystrokes

  5. Phishing

  6. Malware or Virus

  7. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)


Most companies are not immune to data breaches, even if their software is as tight as Fort Knox. The biggest names in the business, from Verizon to the NHS (the British National Health Service) to Yahoo have faced exposure of user data. Regulatory compliance attempts to protect user privacy and data, but government's can have trouble keeping up with the rapid changes in technology and cyber crime.

So, what are the types of data breaches you should be on guard from? Read on, and we’ll discuss the seven most common types and how they can affect your business.

1. Stolen Information

While you may think this sounds ridiculous, humans are very capable of making errors and they often do. Errors that can cost their company hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

Even Apple has fallen prey to data breaches, including when a careless employee left a prototype of one of their new iPhones lying around. Within just a few hours, the specs and hardware of the yet-to-be-released phone were all over the Internet.

Having an employee leave a computer, phone, or file somewhere they shouldn’t have and having it stolen is incredibly common. And it could compromise not only new prototypes you’re trying to hide but also customer or patient information.

2. Ransomware

Ransomware is technically a sub-type of malware, but it’s worth drawing attention to it separately.

In a ransomware attack, you suddenly get a message stating that all data on your phone or computer is now encrypted, denying you access to your own data. With ransomware, the perpetrator will tell you that they will turn the data back over to you and not release it to the public if you pay a fee. This can range from nominal to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The problem here is that you’re dealing with an admitted criminal and paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee that you’ll actually get your data back or that they won’t release it later.

Many companies hire risk management solution companies to avoid the release or deletion of important or compromising materials.

3. Password Guessing

Another really simple, but incredibly damaging issue is when passwords are stolen. This happens more often than you would think. Some companies leave passwords for computers on Post-It notes, allowing anyone to access them, which could have meddling employees accessing the files somewhere else.

Many people are hacked simply because their password was too easy or guessable. This type of breach is called brute-force attack and is a very common method amongst hackers. People often use passwords like the name of their street, pet’s name, or their birthday, which can make hacking into their accounts easy.

It goes without saying that if someone has your password, they can go into your files and find any type of sensitive information on your company they desire.

4. Recording Keystrokes

Cybercriminals can insert or email you malware called keyloggers that can record what you’re typing onto your computer. The data is passed back to the hackers and used to access sensitive data. This can happen at your place of employment, or on your personal computer.

When this happens, they record everything you are typing – regardless of whether or not the characters appear on screen. This makes it easy for the perpetrator to gather passwords, credit card numbers, and sensitive information you might enter into a database like names, health data, or pretty much anything else.

This can be used against your company easily, as they will immediately have your passwords as well as company credit card information. They will then use these to find and possibly release sensitive company information.

5. Phishing

Phishing attacks come from third-party hackers who create sites that look incredibly genuine. For example, they may make a site that mirrors PayPal, and ask you to log into the site for a necessary change. If you log in it without realizing that you’re not simply logging in to your account, you can end up giving the hacker your password.

This scheme is common at universities. Students will often get emails from a third party posing as the school asking them to confirm their login details. Once they do, the hacker then has their login details to do anything they please with them. We’ve also seen phishing attacks target Microsoft 365 applications, most notably Exchange Online.

Again, a phishing scheme can compromise the safety of any sensitive information you or your company possess.

6. Malware or Viruses

Malware or viruses are sent to people with the goal of wiping their computer of all data. This can be harmful to any company, especially those who rely on their data. For example, if a malware virus was sent to a hospital, it could wipe the data of thousands of patients. This could result in a very serious situation, delaying treatment or even mean the death of some of those inside the hospital.

In order to prevent these types of viruses, don’t click on anything you aren’t sure where it is from. Some companies who require that clients or potential clients email them things will ask them not to attach anything, but place it in the body of the email. This prevents them from accidentally clicking on anything that could potentially erase a server.

7. Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS)

This attack tends to only target larger companies and is often a form of protest. For example, if vigilante justice trolls, like Anonymous, decide that they do not like the way a pharmaceutical company is running and feels it is taking advantage of patients, they can launch a denial-of-service attack.

A distributed denial-of-service attack is when the attack is launched from multiple sources simultaneously. With this type of attack, they will make it impossible for those at work to sign into the system. If sites are unreachable due to all the traffic from the attack, customers are unable to access the company’s services. While the data isn’t necessarily lost, they force the company to shut down while they deal with the security breach, potentially losing business.

This type of attack does not often happen to individuals, as it takes a large amount of resources and a very coordinated attack.

How Can I Protect My Company?

There is no foolproof method of protecting your company from any of the types of data breaches mentioned previously. You can educate yourself and your employees on the consequences of data breaches and how likely it is for someone to hack into the system.

You can also ensure that your employees change their passwords regularly by setting time-outs and timers on passwords. You can also remind your employees to keep sensitive information they may carry with them outside of work as safe as possible.

For more information on protecting SaaS application data and how Veritas can protect against damage from these types of attacks, take a look at our data protection solutions.

Contact us if you want to learn more about our ransomware solutions and how we can protect your business for such attacks


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