A Security Breach Defined and Why Its Important

June 11, 2021

Eventually, no matter how strong your company’s defenses are, someone, somewhere, will manage to compromise your security. And as much as you want to be 100% secure, there is no defense system that’s immune to an attack. What’s more shocking is that the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million and the average time to identify a breach is 280 days (IBM).

However, just because you’ve been the victim of a security breach doesn’t mean you can’t recover (even though it may feel like the end of the world). A recovery and return to business as usual are possible ... if you have a plan in place.

What is a Security Breach?
Quite simply, a security breach occurs when an unauthorized user penetrates or evades security measures to access protected areas of a system. The perpetrator could be a real person (think cyber hacker), or a self-directing program (think virus or malware).

Security breaches can be the result of accidental or intentional actions. Typically, they're motivated when an attacker wants:

  • Access to secure information.
  • Entry to computing resources for their own purposes.
  • Admission to crash a network for personal or political reasons.

As frightening as these attacks can be, they’re often not that difficult to identify and plan for. 

Types of Data Breaches
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, a security and a data breach are not the same. A security breach is a failure of cybersecurity controls, but that does not necessarily mean confidential data was compromised. On the other hand, the term ‘data breach’ is when secure information is accessed by an unauthorized user or released into an environment that is not trustworthy.

Data breaches can be broken down into the following categories.

  • Hacking intrusions
  • Insider threats
  • Human error or accidental exposure
  • Data on the ‘move’
  • Unauthorized access
  • Physical theft

Preparing for a Security Breach
Preparation is key when it comes to recovering from a security breach. If you don’t have the right systems and tools in place, you may not even be able to identify a security breach, let alone contain and eliminate it.

When preparing to protect your organization, here are some key ways you can protect yourself. The more prepared you are for an attack, the easier it will be to quickly remediate.

Identify Your Company’s IT Assets
Performing a complete audit of the IT assets on your network is a must, if you’re going to account for all of the resources you need to protect. 

2. Create an Incident Response Plan
An incident response plan (IRP) outlines what each person in the organization needs to do in response to a network breach. Having an IRP plan helps employees react more quickly and consistently to network hacks so that breaches can be contained and eliminated faster. 

Add an Intrusion Detection System
Spotting a breach is crucial for ensuring a rapid response. Intrusion detection systems will help you identify when security breaches occur so that you can quickly respond, and automatically trigger network breach response measures to help immediately contain the attack.  

4. Backup Your Data
Before an attack occurs, make sure you create a remote data backup of your most important information so that local files can be restored following a breach. This prevents data loss from breaches that damage and encrypt locally stored files. It’s also an important part of a disaster recovery plan. Setting up the backup requires the organization to categorize its data so the most important information can be preserved in an emergency.

5. Conduct Frequent Testing
Penetration tests (also known as pen tests) are a critical tool for risk mitigation, helping to identify vulnerabilities in your security preparations. In penetration testing, security experts intentionally try to break your cybersecurity architecture. This helps identify potential exploits in the network, which you can then fix to prevent attackers from being able to use them in a ‘zero day’ attack. 

6. Create an Incident Response Team 
While having an incident response plan is useful, having people with the right skills and experience to handle your response to breaches is equally as important. An incident response team can ensure your IRP is carried out as smoothly as possible.

Protect Yourself with a Trusted Cybersecurity Partner
Having an experienced managed security service provider can help you get started on your journey to protecting systems from a security breach. Whether it’s evaluating cybersecurity controls, conducting vulnerability assessments and penetration testing, or monitoring for threats, AMTRA has the knowledge and experience to ensure business continuity.

Contact our team today and tell us all about your unique security needs.

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