There are few things worse than being told that your business’s security has been compromised. Organizations might not know that a security breach is taking place, or has been for some time. Yet, risk mitigation and technical safeguards are always getting better.
What’s worse is that some companies don’t consider the importance of security. They might think that because they’ve never suffered an attack in the past, there’s no need to protect themselves for the future. Or they may use things like firewalls, but without the proper configuration or expert monitoring needed. They may even believe that because they’re a small business, there’s no risk of them being targeted.
13 Signs that Could Indicate an Impending Data Breach
There are thirteen things to look for that could be a sign of a future data breach, according to experts from bestantivirus.com.
1. Important Files Have Been Altered.
If criminals gain access to a network, they can remove, replace, and alter existing files there and this can be achieved very quickly. To avoid this, all important files within an organization need to be monitored. Although important files can be altered throughout the day anyway by employees, it’s crucial to be able to recognize the difference between malicious and authentic changes.
2. Devices or Internet Connection Slowed Down.
Devices or an internet connection that has slowed down from being previously fast could have been affected by malware. Users shouldn’t assume that their IT department will not respond to this type of request and still report it for investigation. Equally, the IT department should immediately investigate devices or connections which have slowed down, and this is something that should be made clear in the organization’s security policy.
3. Suspicious Emails.
Arguably, one of the most common techniques that are used to compromise an organization’s security is phishing. Sometimes, the signs can be difficult to spot, but there are common things to look out for. These types of scams are usually associated with companies like the tax office or government. In fact, virtually any organization involved with charges or payment refunds. Start by checking the email address, then review the spelling and grammar of the message itself. If anything looks off, it probably is.
4. Evidence of Device Tampering.
If, after their device is turned off, a user discovers that their device is actually running still, this should be reported to their IT department. Somebody could be trying to access the device remotely or even on-site. The user must stop using their device so that their personal information can’t be compromised. One telltale sign not to use the device could be suspicious browser toolbars appearing or loads of annoying popups.
5. Locked Out Accounts.
If a user attempts to log in to their account and is unable to, their account could have been compromised, and they could have been locked out. They should pass their concern to their IT team who will review who has had access to the account, or see whether any unauthorized changes have been made to the account’s password. If unauthorized access is a growing concern for an organization, they may want to consider multi-factor authentication.
6. Unidentified Outbound Traffic.
If, after reviewing outbound traffic, sources of traffic are unknown, this is a surefire sign that something isn’t right. If the traffic happens to be in high volume, this could be a sign that criminals are trying to use applications to transfer data to them. As a result, skilled experts in IT departments need to regularly monitor traffic so that unauthorized activity can be quickly identified.
7. Unusual User Admin Activity.
The best types of organizations treat their employees with a degree of suspicion as far as security is concerned. They should regularly review user logs, particularly the activity of admin users. Companies should know their networks well so they can respond to security incidents as they arise. Policies, procedures, and tools should also exist for ongoing monitoring of all assets. Organizations should keep an eye out for sudden permission changes or high volume database transactions. Because these could be signs of an external or internal threat. They should also be aware of user activity, for example, if someone is attempting to cover their tracks by editing logs.
8. Poor Knowledge of Cyber Security Risk Posture.
Risk posture considers how vulnerable an organization is to outside threats and how robust its current security is. Security can be compromised in various different ways, such as adopting a blase approach to the subject, or not adopting the necessary cybersecurity tools. Not fully considering the risk associated with cyber-attacks only leaves an organization open to further attacks.
9. Security Policies Lacking Depth.
IT teams can spend a significant amount of time creating best practices or cybersecurity policies. Yet, if they’re not robust enough, there’s little point in having them, as they’ll do little in the event of an actual security incident. This is why an organization needs to have the strongest and most effective policy available, along with the right tools and technology.
10. A Reactive Approach to Security.
A reactive approach to security is when an organization waits until a breach has occurred, then deals with the consequences. It’s not a good approach, as it maximizes both risk and potential loss. Instead, organizations should practice a reactive approach using tools for incident management and deal with situations even before they have occurred.
11. Little Consideration of Remediation or Recovery.
Remediation is essential for effective incident management and should be invested in sufficiently so that better cybersecurity policies and procedures can be invested in for the future. Cyberthreats do make their way onto networks from time to time, and it’s vital to have the right technology and tools in place to deal with them. Having the proper remediation and recovery processes in place can be the difference between a minor setback or a devastating loss, or the speed at which the organization can respond.
12. Unknown Transactions.
If, when checking your bank account, you notice transactions not made by you, or ones that appear suspicious, you need to contact your bank straight away. On the phone call, let the operator know straight away that you’ve been a victim of a cyber attack and they will make your call a priority. Be sure to check your account regularly so you can catch these incidents in good time. Leaving them longer can only make matters worse.
13. Lack of Encryption.
Encryption works on the principle that if someone attempts to open a protected file, they can’t, as their operating system won’t recognize it. However, if someone manages to open your file regardless, this can have negative consequences, like confidential information getting into the wrong hands. If this happens to you, contact your IT support team for a possible solution. Also, make sure always to back up your data.
How to Lower Your Risk of Suffering a Data Breach
1. Monitor all files within your organization, and know the difference between malicious and authentic changes.
2. Ask IT to investigate any devices or connections which have slowed down as the reason for this could be malware.
3. Be suspicious of emails that contain suspect addresses, spelling, or grammar, or relate to the government or tax office.
4. Report devices that continue to run, even after switching off, to your IT department. Someone might have unauthorized access, and your data might be compromised.
5. Speak to your organization’s IT team if you feel your account might have been compromised. They will review password changes and overall access.
6. Keep an eye out for unknown sources of traffic that are high in volume; someone might be trying to access applications within your organization.
7. Sudden permission changes or high volume database transactions should be monitored by an organization’s IT department as it could be a sign of an inside or outside security threat.
8. Consider the risk of things like cyberattacks or what could happen if specific cybersecurity tools weren’t used properly.
9. Make sure your organization has robust and effective security policies, as well as tools and technology to ensure as secure an environment as possible.
10. Use a reactive approach so that security issues can be dealt with before they become a big problem.
11. Have the right remediation and recovery in place so cyber threats can be dealt with right away, and the risk of a significant setback is reduced.
12. Contact your bank right away if you notice suspicious activity or unknown transactions on your account. Check your account regularly, so nothing slips through the net.
13. Encrypt all your files, so confidential information can’t get into the wrong hands. Back up your files regularly.
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