Data Breach vs. Security Incident| February 12, 2023
Data breaches and security incidents are both serious concerns for organizations of all sizes. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two that are important to understand. Read on to learn how data breaches and security incidents compare, with practical examples of each.
What Is a Data Breach?
A data breach is a specific type of security incident in which sensitive or confidential information is accessed or stolen by an unauthorized party. This can include personal information, such as:
- Social security numbers
- Credit card numbers
- Login credentials
- Business information (financial data or trade secrets)
Data breaches can have a significant impact on both individuals and organizations, as the stolen information can be used for identity theft, fraud, or other malicious purposes.
One of the most well-known examples of a data breach is the hack of credit bureau Equifax in 2017, in which the personal information of 147 million individuals was compromised. The incident had a major impact on those affected, as well as on Equifax’s reputation and bottom line.
In a Yahoo data breach almost a decade ago in 2013, the personal information of over 3 billion user accounts was compromised. This included sensitive information such as email addresses, telephone numbers, and security questions and answers.
The incident was one of the largest data breaches in history at the time and had a significant impact on Yahoo’s reputation and bottom line. The company was later acquired by Verizon Communications, and the data breach was one of the reasons for the reduction in the price of the acquisition.
A more recent example of a data breach was seen in the Marriott International data breach in 2018, in which the personal information of over 500 million guests was compromised. The incident, which was discovered to have begun in 2014, resulted in the theft of sensitive information such as names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passport numbers, and other information.
What Is a Security Incident?
A security incident is a much broader term that can refer to any event that poses a threat to the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of an organization’s information or systems. This can include not only data breaches but also issues such as malware infections, phishing attacks, or network outages.
A prime example of a security incident is a phishing attack, in which an individual or organization is tricked into providing sensitive information or clicking on a malicious link. These types of attacks can be particularly insidious, as they often appear to be legitimate and can be difficult to detect.
A real-life instance of a security incident is the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017, which affected organizations around the world, including the UK National Health Service (NHS). The attack exploited a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows, encrypting the data on affected computers and demanding a ransom payment to regain access. The incident had a major impact on the affected organizations, causing widespread disruption and requiring significant resources to contain and recover from the attack.
In 2020, there was a large SolarWinds supply chain attack 2020, where hackers breached the software supply chain of the IT management software company, and used that access to install malware in the software updates of their clients. This gave the hackers access to sensitive data and systems of multiple government agencies and private companies, and it was discovered that this attack had been ongoing for several months before being detected.
How Are You Handling Data Breaches and Security Incidents?
Preventing data breaches and security incidents requires a multi-faceted approach. Organizations should have strong security protocols in place, including firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and regular security updates. Additionally, they should provide regular training to employees to help them recognize and respond to potential threats.
In the event of a data breach or security incident, organizations should have a well-established incident response plan in place.
This plan should include steps to:
- Contain the incident
- Investigate the cause
- Mitigate the impact
The organization should also notify affected individuals and regulatory authorities as required by law.
How Concensus Prevents Data Breaches and Security Incidents For Educational Institutions
Data breaches and security incidents can have significant consequences for organizations, including damage to reputation, loss of customers, and legal and financial penalties. In addition, organizations may face legal action from individuals whose personal information has been compromised.
It’s essential for organizations to take data breaches and security incidents seriously and to take steps to protect their information and systems. Concensus helps educational institutions in this area by implementing strong security measures and regularly reviewing and updating them to keep pace with evolving threats.
Protect Your Organization
Data breaches and security incidents are both serious concerns for organizations, but it’s important to understand the difference between the two. While a data breach involves the unauthorized access or theft of sensitive information, a security incident is a broader term that can refer to any event that poses a threat to an organization’s information or systems.
Preventing these types of incidents requires a multi-faceted approach, including strong security protocols, employee training, and incident response plans. Organizations should also be prepared to face the consequences, which can include damage to reputation, loss of customers, and legal and financial penalties.
Don’t wait for a data breach or security incident to happen, take action now and secure your organization’s sensitive information. Contact Concensus online or by calling 724-898-1888 to schedule a security assessment.