Understanding the Lifecycle of a Data Breach

Understanding the Lifecycle of a Data Breach

Oct 16, 2022 / Kron

With the commitment of much of the business world to digital transformation and its requirements, data use issues have become increasingly relevant. With the increasing importance of data and data-driven workflows, cybersecurity issues have come into prominence. Finding realistic solutions to these issues requires a thorough analysis of what data breach incidents tell us about businesses’ IT infrastructures.

First of all, it is very important to realize that the damage caused by a data breach is not limited to data loss. In addition to data loss, a data breach can cause temporary or permanent damage to the business model, lead to system downtime, result in costly ransomware, and negatively impact the corporate image.

The first step to minimizing the potential damage caused by data breaches, and implement a range of successful cybersecurity actions based on past experience, is to properly analyze the data breach lifecycle process. Referring to the period of time between the moment the breach occurs and the instant the breach is under control, the lifecycle can evolve in different ways depending on various factors such as the type of cyberattack.

We have brought together a few tips that companies need to consider regarding the data breach lifecycle so that they can incorporate advanced data security into their IT infrastructure. In our statistics-based research, we have tried to demonstrate why it is so important to properly analyze data breach incidents.

Data Breach Lifecycle and Root Causes

When collecting sensitive data, the first question that needs to be answered is how a hacker goes about his business. Understanding how hackers think and how they plan cyberattacks can help you better prepare. In order to properly analyze and manage each preparation step, it is extremely important to master the steps of the lifecycle.

Consisting of phases such as target selection and reconnaissance, attack planning, attack execution, exploitation, lateral movement, and the end game, the lifecycle of a data breach represents a meticulously planned process for a hacker. We will describe the attack phases in detail from the cyber attacker's perspective, but firstly, we would like to explain the source of security vulnerabilities and weaknesses that attract hackers' attention in the target selection and reconnaissance phase.

It is very likely that organizations with no advanced cybersecurity protocols have both software and hardware vulnerabilities in their IT infrastructures. Security vulnerabilities resulting from device hardware structure, third-party software flaws, misconfiguration, compromised credentials, business email security (BEC), phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, and data leaks by malicious individuals within the enterprise can lead to data breaches.

To obviate such problems and prevent data leaks, developing the right cybersecurity policies has become a necessity, not an option. So now that we have listed the possible sources of the lifecycle, let's look at and analyze breaches from the perspective of a cyber-attacker.

Data Breach Ecosystem

Understanding the methods used and paths trodden by the cyber-attacker in the data breach lifecycle, which consists of five phases, can help you take some preventive measures more easily. For this reason, it can be useful to look in detail at what all five phases mean to a hacker.

Reconnaissance of Security Vulnerabilities

The lifecycle of a data breach begins with the attacker discovering a security vulnerability in the IT infrastructure they plan to attack. After the hacker locates the security vulnerability, i.e. the weak point in the network, he moves on with determining the attack strategy. The reconnaissance phase often involves targeting resources that can open multiple doors for the attacker within the network, such as credentials, sensitive personal data, and financial information.

Creation of an Attack Strategy

The basic strategy in security breach incidents that leads to data disclosure is based on gaining access to the system. This is usually done by intercepting the credentials of a user who has access to the network or by infecting authentication protocols with malware. The strategy phase is highly dependent on the data obtained in the reconnaissance of security vulnerabilities.

Identification of the Right Tools for System Access

The goal of the attack, which is carried out by hijacking login credentials, malware connection, or another attack vector, is to take control of the system for a long period of time without getting noticed. Using one of the attack vectors just mentioned, the cyber attacker has the ability to penetrate deeper into the IT infrastructure and disrupt it from the moment he enters the system.

On the Way to the Target

By targeting an IT infrastructure not configured with advanced cybersecurity protocols, the attacker can easily reach his target by using the right attack vectors. In general, the goal is to make money or disrupt the continuity of the business. Ransomware attacks can target both.

Damage Assessment

The longer the data breach lifecycle is, the more difficult it becomes to detect damage. As the cycle gets longer due to delays in detecting data breaches, more data can be leaked, and greater financial losses can be incurred.

According to a recent study, it takes an average of 277 days worldwide to detect a data breach. Of this time, 207 days are related to data breach detection, while 70 days are spent trying to contain the breach.

One of the findings of the same study is related to the lifecycle cost of a data breach. Even a lifecycle lasting less than 200 days has an average cost of 3.74 million US dollars. The longer the cycle time, the higher the cost.

PAM Solutions: High Efficiency in Data Breach Detection

Mastering the entire IT infrastructure and establishing a strict control mechanism based on the 24/7 principle is the best way to detect data breaches. To perform these functions, an advanced cybersecurity protocol is required. This is where Privileged Access Management (PAM) solutions come into play.

PAM solutions enable organizations to leverage an advanced control mechanism for their IT infrastructure. Enabling control over access to these areas by auditing all entities with sensitive data batches, including the database, PAM is also highly successful in preventing breaches that can result from user errors in the network.

Our Privileged Access Management (PAM) product, Single Connect, also combines access control and data security applications to reduce the risk of data breaches through its advanced modules. Let's take a quick look at Single Connect's modules:

  • Privileged Session Manager: Tracks and logs the activities of privileged accounts with access to critical data. Facilitates centralized management and control of all sessions.
  • Password Vault: With its password vault feature, it isolates authorized user passwords from the network and prevents password sharing.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication: Verifies privileged users with various verification mechanisms such as time and geographic location features.
  • Database Access Manager: Controls and logs all critical data areas, including the database, and the administrator actions on the system.
  • Dynamic Data Masking: Prevents data leaks by displaying existing data as masked information instead of real sensitive information.
  • Privileged Task Automation: By automating critical tasks, eliminates human error and achieves high efficiency.

Contact us today to mitigate data breaches efficiently against cyber threats and to learn more about how to integrate our PAM solution into your company's IT infrastructure.

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