How to Detect a Data Breach

Philip Robinson
| Time 5 min read| Updated On - June 22, 2020

If we look at some of the most high-profile data breaches of the last few years, you will be astonished at how long it took for the organization involved to detect. Companies as big and as well-equipped as Verifone, took 6 months to detect the data breach that first started in the middle of 2016. It took Forever 21 around 9 months to detect their data breach that started in March of 2017. There are even suggestions that the now infamous Marriott data breach could have been detected four years before it was discovered in September 2018.

According to recent studies, breaches that occur as a result of insider threats or privilege abuse take far longer than others to detect – with the average number of days hovering around 191 days. Organizations seem to be so focussed on their bottom line that they are often blind to the signs of insider threats.

Why are so many organizations, particularly large enterprises, struggling to detect data breaches? I believe the answer lies in the fact that data security basics are being routinely ignored. With that in mind, let’s go through some of the basics of data breach detection.

How Data Breach Detection Works

At this current moment in time, third parties are the most popular or most common method of data breach detection. For example, fast food operator Sonic only discovered a data breach involving PCI when their credit card processor notified them of unusual activity.

So, asking yourself how data breaches are currently detected will not give you a good idea of how to detect one yourself. The current methods that most organizations use are simply not enough, and the long time between incident and detection reflects that. A better question to ask would be, “how can I detect a data breach internally?”

How do we Identify High-Value Data?

It is an obvious fact that in order to protect our sensitive data, we need to know where it resides. High-value data, which includes PII, PCI, PHI, and so on, is worth a lot of money on the open market, hence why such data is a prime target for cyber-criminals. Fortunately, there are a number of data discovery and classification tools available which can automatically discover, classify and encrypt a large range of high-value data types.

How to Detect a Data Breach in 4 Steps

If you fully understand what causes a data breach, and what a data breach is, then you will be in a better place to identify the key indicators. There are a few general guidelines and principles you should follow so that you can detect a data breach quickly.

1. Stay Informed

The types of threats you will face will change on a day to day basis. It’s important that you stay informed with the latest cybercrime news so that you can better spot the symptoms of an attack or breach. Your best chance of staying ahead of the game when it comes to detecting data breaches is to know what the popular cyber-attack methods are and how to detect them. You can stay informed with cybersecurity trends through active involvement in forums, networking with fellow professionals and partners, and through popular cybercrime news outlets.

2. Surround Yourself with the Right People

In order to detect data breaches faster and handle them with expertise, you need to surround yourself with the best cybersecurity personnel that you can afford. If you have the right staff in place who can spot the symptoms of a data breach, then you will improve detection and response times.

Currently there is a shortage of security professionals, but you can always outsource some of your security needs to a third party or partner with educational institutions to help foster talent. There are also many data breach detection and prevention solutions on the market that can help address the shortage.

3. Get a Data Breach Detection Solution

Security budgets have increased over the last few years and are set to increase further over the coming years. Many organizations are wisely investing in state-of-the-art data breach prevention solutions to help overcome the cybersecurity skills shortage. If you are still in the habit of using legacy security tools or even trying to do everything in house, then you could be missing out on the latest security features and leaving yourself open to threats.

Look for advanced breach detection technologies that make use of machine learning or AI to learn user behavior and detect and react to anomalies. Many modern cybersecurity solutions, including the Lepide Data Security Platform, detect where your most sensitive data is and help you govern access and monitor user behavior to detect threats faster and in a more automated way. They can also automate your data breach response to help mitigate the consequences of a data breach.

4. Train Your Users

Often, users are cited as the biggest risk to your cybersecurity, contributing both to insider threat statistics and to human error. External attacks take advantage of trusting or negligent users through phishing attacks or social engineering to gain access to your systems and steal sensitive data. Regular security awareness training improves your users’ ability to detect threats in the form of malicious links, attachments or behavior. They should also be taught the reasons why proper password security is important why they should regularly update passwords, use complex passwords and keep passwords private (and don’t write them down).

How to Detect a Data Breach Quickly

Without an intelligent Data Security Platform, it might be impossible to detect data breaches with enough speed and precision to mitigate damages. Luckily, Lepide have just the solution for you! If you would like to see how the Lepide Data Security Platform can help you to detect a data breach in seconds, schedule a demo with one of our engineers today.

Philip Robinson

Philip Robinson

Phil joined Lepide in 2016 after spending most of his career in B2B marketing roles for global organizations. Over the years, Phil has strived to create a brand that is consistent, fun and in keeping with what it’s like to do business with Lepide. Phil leads a large team of marketing professionals that share a common goal; to make Lepide a dominant force in the industry.

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