Why Do Data Breaches Happen? graphic

So, What Is a Data Breach?

A data breach is a situation where an individual or group extracts secure data from a source. This is data that is not intended to be publicly accessible. It is the digital equivalent of someone breaking into a file cabinet and taking or copying the files within.

Okay, Got It! Can You Tell Me About Recent Breaches?

Data breaches are a massive cybersecurity issue that results in millions of lost and stolen documents each year. Capital One was most recently victim to one of the biggest breaches, with 100 million customers’ information affected. According to CNN, the hacker gained access to 140,000 Social Security numbers, 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers, and 80,000 bank account numbers.  

Some of the biggest companies in the world have reported massive data losses over the last few years. Most notably in 2017, Equifax suffered a data breach. In an agreement with The Federal Trade Commission, Equifax will have to pay up to $700 million as well as offer compensation to victim. In 2015, there were 80 million compromised records from Anthem health in 2015, 76 million JP Morgan Chase records in 2014, 145 million eBay records in 2014 and 70 million records from Target in 2013.

These are big companies that presumably have very expensive cybersecurity systems in place. These data losses can be devastating to these companies and the people whose secure data is compromised by these breaches. Why are they happening, and what can your company do to prevent them? It may help to look at the problem in more detail.

Interesting! Why Might a Data Breach Occur?

The answer is …complicated. There is not one substantive reason. 

Reliance on Technology

According to a McAfee report, 61% of IT professionals have experienced a serious data breach. Part of the reason for this startling number is the shift in companies housing data online and thus, hackers discovering new methods of puncturing a hole in security.

Human Error

According to IBM, 27% of data breaches are caused by human error. In 2017, data breaches cost companies an average of $3.6 million globally, according to a study by the Ponemon Institute. A lack of proper cybersecurity education may be to blame. 25% of employees have said to leave their computers unlocked or unattended, according to Shred-it. Team members may write important passwords or logins on a piece of a paper and leave on their desks. Another reason may be the lack of proper security protocols for how information is disseminated and stored with remote workers.

Can You Tell Me How Hackers Gain Access?

People who steal data in this way may do so by gaining access to a secure network through a local networked computer, or by using their computer knowledge to bypass security from a remote location. These people may be hacktivists — who steal data for what they perceive is a greater social purpose — governments stealing data for intelligence reasons, corporate saboteurs or simply mischief-makers with computer skills. Whatever the motivation, the result is often devastating.

The hacker protocol typically begins with an examination of the company’s network before the attack, seeking out weaknesses in security to exploit. You can find hacker kits that facilitate the entire hacking process. Once the hacker finds a weakness, he or she attempts to exploit it with either a network or social attack. A social attack is when the hacker attempts to deceive employees into allowing him into the network, either by giving up passwords or opening malware in the system. A network attack is a direct attack on the computer system to attempt to infiltrate the network. As soon as the hacker is in and if they are undetected, he or she is free to search for useful data and extract if from the system.

Ways to Keep Personal Data Safe Online

36% of comprised data in 2017 was personal information such as name, birthday, and gender. The Federal Trade Commission urges people to use strong passwords, encrypt data, and keep social activity to a minimum. The government agency also recommends that mobile device users be smart about public Wi-Fi connections, by staying away from logging into their bank account or paying bills while connected. Other tips include locking laptops, avoiding phishing emails, and reading privacy policies.

How to Protect Your Company from a Data Brach

To protect your company against data breaches, you need the most up-to-date cybersecurity methods and personnel trained in protecting data. You also need a top-of-the-line identity access management system. A quality IAM protects your data by using multifactor authentication to make sure anyone who has been granted access to your system is allowed and that anyone in the system is restricted to exactly the level of access the company approves them for.

For award-winning identity access management protection, your company should contact Optimal IdM as soon as possible. Optimal IdM offers cost-effective, custom solutions for protecting your company from unauthorized access. To learn more or request a free trial, contact Optimal IdM today.



Can’t wait? Get Optimal IdM IAM Services Now

Contact Us       Start Your Free Trial 



  • The database in which all of your organization’s sensitive identity data is stored.
  • A digital ledger in which digital transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly.
  • Securely managing customer identity and profile data, and controlling customer access to applications and services.
  • The means of linking a person's electronic identity and attributes, stored across multiple distinct identity management systems.
  • A legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the EU.
  • The policy-based centralized orchestration of user identity management and access control.
  • An authentication infrastructure that is built, hosted and managed by a third-party service provider.
  • A security system that requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories of credentials to verify the user's identity for a login or other transaction.
  • A global provider of innovative and affordable identity access management solutions. 
  • Managing and auditing account and data access by privileged users.
  • Tools and technologies for controlling user access to critical information within an organization.
  • An authentication process that allows a user to access multiple applications with one set of login credentials.

Pin It on Pinterest