Expanded Definition: Data Breach

What is a data breach?

Facebook. Drizly. Clubhouse. These are just a few examples of companies that have recently experienced data breaches.

A data breach occurs when someone enters an organization’s corporate systems and removes data without permission. It is, in essence, the digital theft of data.

Breaches can be perpetrated by a number of different people, from malicious external actors to insiders and others. However, according to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 70% of actors in data breaches are external players. Much of the time, attackers are motivated by financial gain. After all, if they gain access to valuable data, they can either hold that information ransom (hence the rise in ransomware) or sell it on the dark web. In fact, financial gain was behind 86% of data breaches, according to that same Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

Data breaches are a huge threat to businesses — and their customers or users.

In the case of Facebook, a recent data breach exposed over 530 million users’ information in more than 100 different countries, according to NPR. That’s 530 million opportunities for hackers to send phishing emails, smishing texts, and other forms of social engineering attacks.

Contact information isn’t the only information at risk in data breaches, either. Highly sensitive data such as intellectual property, trade secrets, healthcare information, home addresses, credit cards or bank information, and social security numbers can also be exposed, depending on the severity of the breach, the types of information an organization holds, and how well that organization protects its data.

2020 shepherded in a new workplace dynamic, and many organizations moved into hybrid or fully-remote work models. As remote work continues even after the pandemic, data breaches will continue to be a major challenge for businesses of all sizes and across industries.

The MSP role in preventing a data breach

Whether the actor is external or internal, managed service providers (MSPs) can help their clients by supporting resilient IT systems. When IT systems run updated software, are routinely monitored, and have the right support staff on hand 24/7, it’s much easier to prevent, detect, and shut down a data breach.

Keep software updated at all times

Whether it’s Microsoft, Adobe, or a third-party application, outdated software is a perfect entrypoint for a bad actor. Software is often full of known bugs and vulnerabilities — that’s why software companies regularly issue updates. When an asset such as a laptop is running outdated software, hackers can exploit vulnerabilities, even if that vulnerability is technically already known by the general public and has been addressed.

MSPs can head hackers off at the pass with patch management best practices, including timely patching. This doesn’t have to be done manually, which introduces the possibility of human error. Rather, MSPs can automate software patching with their remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution.

By streamlining patch management and optimizing their patch management with RMM software, MSPs reduce the risk of outdated software as a vector of attack.

Manage and monitor every endpoint

Unmonitored endpoints are easy pickings for a hacker. Because they’re unmonitored, these endpoints may be running outdated software. And because no one’s watching, all kinds of strange behavior can go undetected.

MSPs can help organizations protect their assets by:

By doing this, MSPs reduce the risk of an old, unknown, outdated device serving as a hacker’s entrypoint.

Partner with a security operations center (SOC)

Devices are at risk all day, every day. Cybersecurity is a 24/7 job. MSPs can offer their clients peace of mind with a security operations center (SOC). An around-the-clock team of cybersecurity experts can spot vulnerabilities or suspicious activity quickly and remediate the situation — even if the workday is over and your client is asleep.

Some MSPs may build an in-house SOC. However, this can be a very expensive option (our calculations suggest a cost of almost $2.4M!), so other MSPs partner with an outsourced SOC. With the right partnership, MSPs can offer their clients 24/7 cybersecurity support and defense, which can help to contain data breaches if/when they occur.

Did you know?

In 70% of data breaches, the attack was conducted by an external actor.

Additional resources

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