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Tip of the Week: How to Know if You’ve Experienced a Data Breach

Tip of the Week: How to Know if You’ve Experienced a Data Breach

Your data needs to be protected--that’s something that we all can agree on. However, even if your data were to be targeted in a data breach, would you be able to see the attack coming? Here are three telltale signs that your data is in imminent danger.


The Identity Theft Resource Center, or ITRC, claims to have recorded 781 data breaches in 2015 alone, and that’s just for the United States. This is the second-highest number recorded since the ITRC began tracking data breach counts in 2005. In 2015, the ITRC saw that the business sector made up nearly 40 percent of all reports, with thieves targeting information like financial credentials or personal data. One can only assume the 2016 report will exceed this number.

Therefore, it’s crucial that businesses stay vigilant and understand that even if you’ve taken steps to avoid data breaches, chances are that you’ll still fall victim to one sometime in the future. You can’t just assume that you’ll never be targeted--rather, you should assume as such, and stay cautious. Here are some best practices that you can follow to keep data breaches from wreaking havoc on your systems.

Define “Normal”
To identify problems in your infrastructure, you first need to understand what operating as intended means. You should familiarize yourself with your IT infrastructure, including which employees have access to certain data and network traffic during specific times of day. Only then can you truly understand what to look for in terms of strange occurrences.

Keep an Eye Out for Unusual Activity
Data breaches are rarely things that go without signs or warnings. Look out for these subtle problems with your technology solutions, for they could mean that there’s a much bigger problem just beneath the surface.

  • Unusual or unapproved programs: If random programs are suddenly showing up on your workstations, you may have a breach on your hands. In this particular case, you can ask for your employees’ cooperation. If they see something out of place on their workstation, ask them to report it to IT.
  • Unexplained employee activity: Your network access logs should be able to show you specific times and dates that your team is accessing information. If these can’t be explained (like an employee accessing data at 4am from a country on the other side of the world), you’ll know that there’s something fishy going on.
  • Other breach attempts: If you’ve had to stave off a rather obvious cyber attack in recent weeks, you might be dealing with something much more dangerous. Certain attacks, like DDoS, are used as distractions to allow other dangers to sneak into your infrastructure. Therefore, in order to ensure maximum security, you cannot assume that an attack is over when it seems to be over. The worst might still be yet to come.

Educate Your Employees
Arguably the most important part of data security is ensuring that your team understands the concept of network security. Your employees should know how to identify common threats and avoid them. After all, anyone who accesses sensitive information should know when it’s in danger of being stolen.

For more ways to keep your data safe, give White Mountain IT Services a call at 603-889-0800.

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