As IT systems continue to develop, online criminals also find new ways to attack and obtain organizations’ hidden and critical information. With companies affected by data breach, many have sacrificed their reputation and have lost their customers.
Data breach is an upsetting experience for businesses. Here are five of the biggest organizations that fell victim to cyber-attacks.
Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co.
A thumb drive that has details of 774, 723 of the company’s customers were in possession of a former financial adviser. This led to an investigation which concluded with a search warrant being served to the former adviser.
This was not the first case the company experienced data breach. Way back 2006, an employee was found guilty of obtaining “confidential customer information”. The company then filed a lawsuit against the accused.
The Texas wine retailer’s network was also one of the victims of cyber-attack. It happened for 17 months that affected 550,000 customers’ information. The attack began in October 2012 which damaged 34 of the company’s several branches across the state and continued until March 20 this year. Hackers have taken customer names, credit and debit card details, card security codes, drivers’ license numbers and bank account information from checks.
Ebay was not spared from online attacks. Between February and March this year, online criminals acquired employee log-in credentials to get into the company’s network. They obtained critical information such as encrypted passwords, customer names, email addresses, phone numbers, physical addresses and dates of birth. As the breach affected most of the company members, many were advised to change their passwords.
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
In mid-May last year, officials conducted an investigation at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services due to a hacked server. An estimated 1.3 million people were affected along with their personal information– names, dates of birth, addresses and Social Security numbers.
Between 2013 to 2014, social security numbers, names and other customer account details of up to 280,000 names were obtained by online hackers. The most surprising thing about the attack was that call center staff were involved and helped criminals to unlock handsets.
What Companies should do to Prevent Data Breach
Every organization should learn how to protect critical information. Here are some basic guidelines:
- Be ready with a plan — from an action to prevention of operational paralysis. In this way, your efforts will let consumers know that your company has taken necessary steps and measures to address data security threats.
- Protecting data must not be limited to the IT department. Your organization must create and enforce new company policies and measure offsite and onsite data storage practices.
- Keep data to a minimum. In this way, hackers won’t get valuable information from your company. Here’s what you need to do:
- Access to sensitive data should be done on a need to know basis. When granting employees access to critical material, keep a record of their names and other important information.
- Remove data from the company system upon expiration.
- Stay updated with the latest security software updates. Don’t wait for hackers to get into your accounts with an unpatched system.
- Mobile workers need training and technical support. Even if they are on a different location, they should practice the same data security standards by adhering to company policies and procedures. Also, make sure that mobile devices are updated and the software used and installed is secured and authenticated.
- A periodic risk assessment is helpful. Business models and operations change from time to time and could modify risk levels and liabilities. With both internal and external audit, you can determine if you have acquired new areas or levels of risk. This will give you an idea of what is at stake and what to do about it.
With the increasing risk of data breaches, companies should step up to the security challenge. The health of the business is on the line and companies should not risk losing their customers.
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