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7 Ways Hackers Can Breach Your Business and Private Information

In the digital Wild West, data is gold. Everyone, from high-ranking corporate figures to casual users, can play victim to hackers on the hunt for personal information.

Online hacking is near-constant, as a University of Maryland study shows a new hack is launched every 39 seconds.

But how do these perpetrators infiltrate your systems? Is your computer at risk?

In this article, we’ll cover 7 common ways your data can be breached and the risks you face as an individual or corporate entity.

Let’s dive in…

7 Common Ways Your Data Is Breached

How to prevent this hack

#1. Human Error

To err is human – making mistakes is perfectly natural, and it’s one of the largest concerns regarding data breaches.

On August 18th, 2018, over 300 student records were accidentally posted on Strathmore Secondary College’s intranet. Among the documents visible to any student or teacher were private medical and financial data.

How to prevent this hack:

Cybersecurity and data privacy training is the only way to reduce human error. Make sure to make your cybersecurity training accessible and exciting for employees while also keeping it informative and up-to-date.

#2. Insider Threats

From accident to malicious intent, insider-caused breaches have increased by 44% since 2022. This happened to General Electric (GE) between 2008 to 2019, when two employees stole thousands of private files. It took over 10 years to catch them, by which time they’d stolen countless trade secrets.

How to prevent this hack:

Highly sensitive and confidential information should only be accessed by top-level, trusted employees. Tight access controls and background checks can help reduce the insider threat risk.

#3. Man-In-The-Middle (MITM) Attack

A MITM attack consists of a hacker being in between the user and a web application. Thanks to their vantage point, the attacker can manipulate and actively eavesdrop on their victim.

For instance, 2017 saw huge vulnerabilities in some leading banks’ apps. It allowed countless MITM attacks against users trying to access their bank accounts.

How to prevent this hack:

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) creates an encrypted bridge between your computer and the data you’re accessing. As easy as flicking a switch on a VPN app, it allows you to hide your personal information – even from a snoop who made their way onto your connection.

#4. Ransomware

Ransomware is extremely malicious software that holds your data hostage until a ransom is paid.

In February 2022, super-conductor chip company Nvidia was attacked by ransomware.

Rather than pay the ransom, Nvidia tried to hack the hackers, causing employee credentials and business information to be quickly leaked online.

How to prevent this hack:

There are a handful of cyber hygiene techniques you can use to reduce the chances of a ransomware attack:

  • Keep all software updated;
  • Maintain regular data backups;
  • Install ransomware protection;
  • Implement tight access controls.

#5. Phishing Tactics

Scammers have been using phishing methods for decades to trick users into sharing their private data.

Phishing emails often masquerade as legitimate emails from your bank or other trustworthy corporations. So if you see an email from Netflix saying your account is suspended, think twice before offering login data or following any link.

How to prevent this hack:

Dodge phishing tactics by refusing to share your personal data through any unsolicited conversation. As they often look identical to legitimate company newsletters, make sure you verify the email address, links, and sender before proceeding any further.

#6. Malware and Other Viruses

Malicious software is designed for one reason – to cause damage. Malware is the term used to describe programs that intentionally disrupt servers and computer networks or leak private information.

To give you an idea, Mirai is malware founded in 2016. It combines infected computers into a “botnet”, which is used and controlled remotely in large-scale attacks.

How to prevent this hack:

Antivirus software is your premier safeguard against malware. This software regularly scans your entire system for malicious programs, code, and vulnerabilities. Just make sure to find antivirus software with modern features and regular updates.

#7. Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attack

A DoS attack has one purpose: to disrupt and shut down a computer network, making it inaccessible to users. You may remember hearing of the Google hack in 2020, where a hacker attacked thousands of Google IP addresses for 6 months.

The attack peaked at 2.5Tbps, four times larger than a previously record-breaking Mirai botnet attack.

How to prevent this hack:

There are many ways you can protect against a DoS attack:

  • Create or upgrade your incident response plan;
  • Install and keep up-to-date firewalls, antivirus, VPN, and other security tools;
  • Monitor network traffic for DoS attack patterns;
  • Train staff to spot signs of an attack.

Reading all of these examples of breaches and leaks, you’re probably wondering to – how does any of this affect me?

What Kind of Data is Targeted in a Breach?

Depending on the target, a hacker is on the lookout for personal data of any kind. Below, we’ll briefly discuss what data is targeted in personal and corporate hacking.

Theft from Individuals

If your personal computer and network are infected, hackers will be targeting:

  • Personal details like your name, address, etc.;
  • Payment data like credit card and bank details;
  • Any link between you and your workplace’s network.

Individual hacks are primarily intended to facilitate identity theft. Hackers will use your personal information to buy products, apply for credit cards or even take out loans.

Corporate Theft

When a corporate network is breached, hackers are looking for the following:

  • Employee data like date of birth, social security numbers, etc.;
  • Corporate bank accounts and other account data;
  • Confidential design and product information;
  • Access to corporate digital infrastructure.

If your company is breached, hackers may aim to steal employee data. However, the cause of corporate attacks is often for digital resources or to aid competitors.


It’s become evident that hackers will victimize anyone. Both large corporations and individuals are at risk of being breached and their data stolen.

Yet, being aware of the ways your data can be breached and how to avoid them, your chances of a hack are significantly less.

Make sure to incorporate some of the most effective cybersecurity measures we’ve mentioned in the article, and you’ll be way more protected from the hacks.

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