Warning Signs of a Potential Data Breach

Topics: Agent Resources Cyber Liability

How to Spot a Data Breach


It seems every day we learn about a new data breach, and the numbers keep getting bigger: 56 million records
compromised in the Home Depot breach, 110 million in the Target data breach, and now 500 million at Yahoo, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Small business will probably never face a breach of this magnitude, but that doesn't mean they are safe. In fact, Security Magazine reported "more than two-thirds (67 percent) of companies with fewer than 1,000 employees having experienced a cyberattack, and 58 percent having experienced a breach."

Even a few hundred compromised records can jeopardize credibility and cost the company thousands in damages. Cyberattacks cost a company an average of $200,000. This makes early detection even more critical, because it takes a lot less time to steal a few thousand records than several million. It’s not easy to steal millions of records, and it doesn’t happen overnight. These breaches are huge because companies aren’t catching them in time. Most companies take at least six months to detect a data breach. That’s a lot of time for a hacker to do damage!

How to Prepare for a Possible Data Breach

So what can you do to detect a data breach early? A good hacker isn’t going to announce his presence, but there are some warning signs you should be watching for:

Watch for Unusual Behavior

If a program acts up, it could simply be a software or hardware malfunction, but it could be something much worse. Check the system for other irregularities.

Investigate Suspicious Files

If malware is detected, or a user reports opening a suspicious file, don't take any chances. Assume that the malware has infected something, and don't stop investigating until you find out what, if anything, was breached.

Monitor System Communication

Regularly review communication patterns on the network. If an employee’s computer is accessing other workstations or transmitting large amounts of data to somewhere outside of the network, this could be a sign of a compromise.

Run Scans

Keep anti-virus and anti-malware programs up-to-date. Also run vulnerability programs, such as Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer, to look for missing patches and other security risks.

Check Your Credit

Customer information isn’t the only confidential data on the server. Chances are, there's plenty of information about your client's company on there, too. Changes in your clients's credit rating could be an indication of fraud.

Protect Your Data, Invest in Cyber Liability Insurance

When it comes to potential data breaches, the most important measure a company or agency can take is to take no chances. If you detect anything out of the ordinary, investigate it like your business depends on it, because it just might.

If a breach does happen, having a cyber liability insurance policy from AmTrust can protect small businesses from some of the costs associated with cybersecurity attacks. Be prepared and discuss with an insurance agent the best coverage for your business. 

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