Data Breaches can be catastrophic for many firms. The compromise of sensitive customer information and internal corporate data such as inventory lists, transaction history, and other privileged information is an occurrence that no firm wants to encounter.

Data Breaches | Aside from the immediate financial impact of fraudulent order placements and bank transfers, a loss of client faith can seriously damage the company.

Knowing what causes data breaches is the first step toward preventing them. With this in mind, what are the most common reasons for data breaches?

Here is a short list of key reasons for data breaches:

Data Breaches Cause #1: Old, unpatched security vulnerabilities

For years, information security experts have been accumulating data on the exploits that hackers have successfully utilized on firms in dozens of nations. As a result, these exploits are classified into hundreds of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) in order to be easily identified for future reference.

Leaving these ancient security flaws unpatched offers hackers full access to your company’s most sensitive information.

Cause #2: Human Error

Unfortunately, human mistake is one of the leading causes of data breaches, not some obscure or forgotten security flaw.

According to the CompTIA research report by shrm.org, “human error accounts for 52 percent of the fundamental causes of security breaches.” The precise nature of the error may vary. However, such instances include:

Weak passwords; sending sensitive information to the incorrect recipients; sharing password/account information; and falling for phishing scams.

Many of these human errors can be avoided by ensuring that personnel are aware of the basic data security precautions. According to the SHRM article, “experts frequently advise that additional employee training is needed to address the ‘human firewall’ issue.”

Cause #3: Malware

Malware isn’t simply a concern for employees’ personal computers; it’s a growing menace aimed directly at your company’s infrastructure.

While many of these “malware events” are small in nature, the sheer volume of them can be concerning.

Furthermore, there is a wide variety of malware samples.

Despite this, many malware programs come from only a few different “families.” According to Verizon, “20 families accounted for around 70% of malware activity.”

Why? The main reason is that many hackers make slight changes to existing malware programs to render them unidentifiable to antivirus programs while still providing the desired effect.

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Data Breaches Cause #4: Insider Threats

While connected to human error, this cause of company data is more subtle in nature. Human error means an unintentional accident or mistake. Insider threat is the intentional exploitation of your company’s systems by an authorized user, generally for personal advantage.

According to Verizon’s 2015 DBIR, “it’s all about snagging some easy Benjamins for these mendacious malefactors, with financial gain and convenience being the top motivators (40% of instances).”

The problem is that the malevolent actor is someone your organization has placed trust in. Worse, as Verizon’s investigation pointed out, “identifying insider abuse is not easy… Insider misuse was identified after forensic inspection of user devices after individuals left a firm in the majority of the situations we examined.”

While avoiding insider exploitation is practically impossible, damage can be mitigated by compartmentalizing the information on your network or cloud. The fewer files and systems a single user may access, the more difficult it is for them to abuse their access. However, it may also make necessary data sharing more difficult.

Cause #5: Physical Theft of a Data-Carrying Device

Last but not least on this list is the physical theft of a device containing critical information about your firm. This can include laptops, desktops, cellphones, tablets, hard drives, thumb drives, CDs and DVDs, and even servers.

The severity of a data breach caused by a stolen device is primarily determined by the nature of the data stored on the device. The data breach will be more severe if the device is stolen without being erased.

According to Verizon research, “the majority of the theft occurred within the victim’s work area (55% of incidents), although employee-owned vehicles (22% of incidents”) are also a typical site for thefts to occur.”

Most of these thefts are opportunistic, making them challenging to foresee. As a result, the greatest response is frequently to minimize the opportunity for removing data-storing equipment from the workplace.

While there are several data breach dangers, these are some of the most common/severe


Rhyno delivers a range of activities that combine to fully protect your infrastructure and data from cybercriminals, anywhere and everywhere, 24/7/365.


About Rhyno Cybersecurity Services

Rhyno Cybersecurity is a Canadian-based company focusing on 24/7 Managed Detection and Response, Penetration Testing, Enterprise Cloud, and Cybersecurity Solutions for small and midsize businesses.

Our products and services are robust, innovative, and cost-effective. Underpinned by our 24x7x365 Security Operations Centre (SOC), our experts ensure you have access to cybersecurity expertise when you need it the most.

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