Data breaches are a constantly increasing threat, and have already caused serious issues for companies, government agencies, and individuals when their data has been stolen.  These attacks have been occurring with increased regularity. In 2020 alone, there were reportedly 1001 data breach cases in the United States, with 155.8 million data exposures (individuals accidentally exposing their personal information).

Serious Exposure

One recent large-scale example occurred on August 17, 2021, when a hacker breached T-Mobile and exposed customers’ past and present data, including names, drivers licenses, government ID numbers, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, T-Mobile PINs, addresses, and phone numbers. Within days, the number of accounts affected topped the 50 million mark, and the investigation is ongoing.

T-Mobile responded by providing their customers with free security plans covering multiple facets, but security plans only help with future attacks and do little to mitigate the damage already caused. It’s a huge challenge, and virtually every industry is grappling with the fallout from previous breaches and the rising risk of future attacks.

So how do companies avoid data breaches and other cybercrime activities?

Testing for Vulnerabilities

A major weapon in the fight against cybercrime is testing for potential security vulnerabilities. Two of the most powerful testing approaches are penetration testing (also called pen testing) and vulnerability testing.

Penetration Testing

In a pen test, a hired hacker seeks to exploit vulnerable areas in an organization’s security systems. These systems can range from firewalls to personnel, but all areas are susceptible to breaches and are therefore components necessary to be tested. The hacker provides the organization with a report on any identified issues so they can be addressed.

Vulnerability Testing

The other testing approach is a vulnerability test, which classifies the range of weaknesses in a company’s infrastructure and prioritizes them based on their level of vulnerability. This type of test is for locating and scanning vulnerabilities as a preventative measure against attacks and the information can be used to design stronger security measures.

By utilizing these testing methods, an organization can better prevent serious issues such as the T-Mobile data breach and provide an increased level of confidence for employees and customers in how their personal data is being protected.

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