Any organization can experience a data breach, even with sophisticated firewalls and spam filters. Each breach costs a company loss of consumer trust, even if the breach doesn’t result in any other damages.

What Is A Data Breach?

A data breach exposes sensitive data to unauthorized users. Basically, any data accessed by an unauthorized audience is a data breach. For enterprises, data breaches can result in lost intellectual property, consumer trust, as well as millions of dollars in fines, depending on the severity.

How Data Breaches Happen

Data breaches occur at an enterprise or consumer level in many different ways, the most popular being indirect breaches through third- or fourth-party vendor vulnerabilities.


Third-Party, Fourth-Party, Nth-Party Vendors

While organizations leverage a third-party vendor for many reasons, a common challenge becomes monitoring the security practices of those vendors. And what about the vendors used by that vendor? The attack surface grows and grows when you realize the services used by your services.

Because many cyber criminals use login details to access platforms, they could buy the user details of your vendor’s employee off the dark web to gain access to the vendor’s IT and data infrastructure, and eventually leverage that data to access your IT systems.

These vendors may have misconfigurations and security vulnerabilities that you wouldn’t know about, but leave your company exposed to a potential exploit.



Malware refers to any software designed to damage computers, servers, or networks. All forms of malware attempt to spread from device to device and across networks. The attack may start from an email on your network or an email on a fourth-party platform that has worked its way to a larger enterprise, causing monetary and reputational damage.


Social Engineering

Social engineering allows cyber attackers to gain access to you or your partner’s networks legitimately because they received login details from someone on the inside. Many times, they’ll mimic an email address with only one letter difference, then ask for the user to reset a password using a malicious link. The attacker may pretend to be an executive within the company and request sensitive information from an employer, such as bank account details or social media login information.


Misconfiguration, Insider Breaches, Weak Passwords, And More

Yes, some people still set their passwords to “password” and can cause a data breach at your company. Data breaches also occur through simple human error, like attaching the wrong document when sending an email.

Misconfiguration is another case of human error, which leaves a database of sensitive information accessible on the internet without password or security restrictions. You can see cases of exposure from misconfigured AWS S3 data bucket over and over, from Microsoft to Expedia to Capital One.

Impact Of A Data Breach

Data breaches have an obvious impact on business, both financially and through loss of trust. When customers no longer feel safe using your platform, they will find somewhere else to spend their money.

Between April and July 2019, the payment platform for several Focus Brands restaurants was compromised. They did not reveal the total number of stolen credit card numbers, but the answer is easily many thousands.

In 2019, an unauthorized user breached Quest Diagnostics through their billing collection vendor and compromised the financial information of 11.9 million patients.

Depending on the type of data stolen, organizations may be penalized millions of dollars in fines or sued by victims of the breach.


Preventing A Data Breach

Due to the breadth and scope of attack vectors that lead to a data breach the question is: how do you protect an organization from all of these potential threats?


Assess Vulnerabilities

More and more data breaches come through third-party vendors and platforms, which means the impacted enterprise has very little control over how the vendor protects user information. In 2021 alone, several Fortune 500 companies and popular social media platforms have been breached through vulnerabilities in their payment platforms, data buckets, and cloud solution platforms.

To stay ahead of vulnerabilities, Cyberpion provides a list of all your third-party connections so you have a clear picture of your external attack surface. Cyberpion also prioritizes the information, so your security team knows what to protect first.


Educate Your Team

Since social engineering and phishing emails affect employees directly, it’s crucial to offer training so they can recognize suspicious emails and report them quickly. Because corporate email addresses are readily available online or through LinkedIn, attackers will target an entire department to access sensitive information.

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