How data breaches happen and how to prevent it

Now that our lives revolve around data, our data has become a prime target for hackers, thieves, and opportunists. Data has real value in this day and age, to the point where a data breach can be devastating for your business.

In this article we’re going to cover the steps hackers take to cause a data breach and the steps you can take to prevent it. We’re going to be talking about virtual private networks (VPNs) later on, which are essential tools in preventing personal and business data breaches. For the uninitiated, take a look at our review of NordVPN, which details what the service is and does. 

For now, however, let’s focus on how data breaches happen.

Data breach methods

Some data breaches can only be prevented by company policy. These are enacted by malicious insiders who abuse their access privileges to leak, or sell, information held by the company.

What we’re focused on here, though, is when outsiders attempt to cause data breaches. If a bad actor manages to get hold of an employee’s login credentials, this can have disastrous consequences. This can be conducted by an employee sharing their credentials over an insecure network, such as in a café that uses public WiFi.

Smarter, less opportunistic hackers will target the network directly. They will attempt to find weaknesses in the network’s code that allows them to negotiate a backdoor entry to the system. Once inside, they can accomplish anything.


Some companies also allow a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) policy, which can enhance productivity and engagement rates. Yet, if you aren’t careful, there’s also a chance you can threaten the business’ entire infrastructure.

Mobile devices are, of course, necessarily separate from the business’ core network. This means that whenever a mobile device is connected to the business network, it creates an exchange of information that goes between the network and the device.

Of course, mobile devices are targetable from a wider range of locations, which means they can be infected with malware much more easily. If a malware-infected mobile device connects to the business’ network, then the bad actor who installed the malware can then transplant it to the network itself.

This is usually spyware, which is used to access the device on which it’s installed remotely. Safe to say that if this gets on to a business network from a compromised mobile device, then it’s only a matter of time before a data breach occurs.

How can I prevent these attacks from happening?

Some of the easiest prevention methods involve common sense. For instance, if an employee uses multiple passwords across various accounts, then a simple attack such as an SQL injection can unveil these passwords to a hacker who can then guess the employee’s password to the business network.

As such, your employees should not be reusing passwords across various accounts. They especially should not be reusing any of their personal passwords for their work account.

As well as this, employees should be encouraged to avoid public WiFi. It is incredibly dangerous for data security, especially if employees are accessing data related to your business on their mobile device.

Most of all, you should be habitually updating your system whenever updates are available. The software you use is constantly reviewed by its creators to ensure there are no weaknesses in the code, and updates are issued when they find and patch these potential weaknesses. Ignoring updates is a good way to ensure your business network remains secure.


Using a VPN can greatly reduce the risk of a data breach. What a VPN does is redirect your connection through a third-party server, thus allowing you to conceal your real identity and make it appear as though you’re in a different location altogether.

The important thing here, though, is that a good VPN encrypts your information so that it isn’t accessible to third-party bad actors. The best VPN services, such as NordVPN, encrypt your data using a 256-bit encryption cipher, which is the same used by the US government.

Once you have a subscription to a VPN service, you can install the software on any device you wish. This means that not only are your in-office devices protected, but mobile devices can be protected too, even when connected to public WiFi


While some of the best prevention methods indeed involve common sense, it’s clear that a good VPN is the best, fool proof method of preventing data breaches. They’re lightweight, adaptable pieces of software that can reliably prevent against hackers who wish to compromise your system and acquire your data.

As always, take a look around at reviews before committing to a VPN. It’s also worth investigating business packages, which allow for a greater amount of simultaneous connections, meaning you can keep all of your employees secured against potential bad actors.