What Does a Data Breach Look Like?

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Part of the problem with a data breach is that your business doesn’t know about it until it’s already happened – sometimes well after. Knowing the signs of a data breach can help you mitigate the damage.

Don’t get complacent about cybersecurity. Many things are competing for your attention. But cyber vulnerabilities can mean unexpected downtime, loss of data or money, and more.

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Of course, you’re already installing firewalls and securing all remote entry points. You’re updating your antivirus tools and software regularly. Plus, you’re keeping strong passwords and educating employees about social engineering.

Still, bad actors can attack. Be vigilant about looking for these common signs of a potential breach.

Computer slows down

Pay attention if your computer takes longer than usual to do what you ask. You may not be imagining it. This, or frequent crashes or screen freezes, could be a sign of malware. Unwanted viruses may monitor your activities, corrupt files, and consume device resources.

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A slow network is another indicator of compromise, as is losing control of your computer’s mouse or keyboard. Malware takes substantial network bandwidth and can slow computers and connected devices.

Passwords don’t work

You have set passwords, or you’re working with passphrases. You know what you set as your access credential, but it’s no longer working. This could mean cybercriminals have taken over your accounts and changed the passwords.

Emails back from contacts

If you’re getting emails from your vendors or customers responding to messages you didn’t send, that’s a bad sign. Either you’re overworked and forgetting what you sent, or hackers have taken over your inbox and are using your address to send messages. They might masquerade as you to send fake invoices or request access credentials.

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Unknown files appear

It is not a good sign when files you don’t recognize appear on your screen or in Task Manager. Installing malware often downloads extra files onto the target machine. So, new files you didn’t add could mean an attack has occurred.

Also, be wary if file names change or the desktop icons look different. Monitoring for changes can help you react before a large amount of data is compromised.

Ransomware request

This one’s obvious, but we can’t fail to mention it. If your accounts are locked, or you face a screen you can’t get past; you may be a ransomware victim. When someone offers you an encryption key to access your accounts or files, it’s definite.

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Help prevent a ransomware infection by keeping your operating system up to date. Also, avoid installing any software without knowing exactly what it is or what it does. Also, you’ll want to check your files regularly. That way, if attacked, the damage may be less significant.

With 90% of small businesses impacted by cyberattacks, you can’t afford to ignore any of these symptoms. The best protection is to prevent any infiltration in the first place. Ensure you have the necessary security in place.