Simply stated, a data breach is either an intentional or unintentional release of data into untrusted hands.
The problem is known by a variety of names, including a data leak, data spill, and an unintentional information disclosure.
Regardless of what you call it, a data breach can spell trouble to countless numbers of people any and every time it happens.
Who Causes a Data Breach?
A data breach can be caused by any number of things. It can be caused on purpose or accidentally.
It can be caused by something as innocent as the careless disposal of computer equipment or data storage media, or as purposeful as a theft by hackers, organized crime, or foreign governments.
Regardless of the type of data that is breached, it is considered a violation of security when sensitive or confidential information is accessed, copied, transmitted, viewed, stolen, and/or used by parties who are unauthorized to access it.
The data involved can be financial information such as bank details, credit card information, or personal identification information.
Trade secrets of businesses or organizations, or intellectual property, also could be breached.
According to the nonprofit consumer group Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a total of 227,052,199 individual records that contained sensitive personal information were involved in data breaches in the U.S. between January of 2005 and May of 2008.
These figures do not include sensitive data that was apparently not actually disclosed.
Many jurisdictions across the country have passed data breach notification laws.
These require that a business or government body that has experienced a data breach inform customers and take other steps to remediate possible injuries caused by the breach.
The primary cause of data breaches are those working inside of an organization.
These might be accidental breaches (37 percent) to 14 percent.
External sources include hackers and state-sponsored actors.
IT managers work closely with professionals to educate them on how to deal with breaches from both internal and external sources.
Medical Data Breaches
Just as likely that someone can be a target for breaches of their financial data, medical records are also a common target.
Just as is the case with financial data breaches, many countries have enacted laws aimed at protecting those whose data has been breached.
These laws not only provide for methods of alleviating the impact of data breaches, but ensure that safeguards are enacted that protect information in the future.
Data breaches can mean a very serious loss of trust as well as data for all of those who have been affected.
The incidences of these breaches are still much more common than they should be.
Fortunately, as the methods of safeguards improve it is hoped that the number of these breaches will decrease in number as well as the damage they cause.
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