How Do Data Breaches Happen?

In today’s modern, technological world, company data breaches are an unfortunately all-too-common occurrence. In fact, many people have become numb to these breaches occurring since the news constantly covers these incidents – often on a near-daily basis.

Given the ongoing concerns regarding data security, companies have had to implement regulations more aggressively. Moreover, whenever a company notices a data breach, it ordinarily has to announce it and may ultimately need to pay high monetary fines and other penalties.

In addition to a level of public distrust that often accompanies data breaches, companies – and the people they serve – may stand to lose millions (and sometimes even billions) of dollars. When a data breach takes a consumer’s personal information, another person can steal their identity, resulting in additional complications that may affect a person for years to come.

Companies have a duty to put certain protocols and safeguards in place to eliminate – or at least lessen – the chances of a data breach by cybercriminals. If they fail to do so and a data breach occurs, consumers might suffer financial harm. Victims may then be in a position to take legal action against the responsible company.

If you believe you are the victim of a company data breach, you need to speak with a knowledgeable data breach lawyer in your area as quickly as possible. New York personal injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP have extensive experience to handle personal injury and data breach cases. The sooner you retain legal counsel to represent you in your case, the better your chances of obtaining a favorable result – including the return of lost money.

Your attorney can review your individual circumstances with you and determine if you can take legal action against the company or some other individual/entity. If so, your lawyer can take the necessary legal actions on your behalf, including filing a claim with the company’s insurer. (Many large corporations carry cyber insurance to protect themselves from the possible ramifications of data breaches).

Your attorney may then file a claim, negotiate with claim representatives, and pursue the monetary result you need to become whole again.

What are Data Breaches?

How Do Data Breaches Happen

Data breaches happen when cybercriminals successfully extract certain types of sensitive information from a data source. Cybercriminals might sometimes accomplish this goal if they physically access a computer or system and steal various files.

At other times, the cybercriminal can remotely bypass the computer system’s network security. Cybercriminals typically use the remote option when they attempt to attack a large corporation.

Data breaches are often very sophisticated operations because it can take extremely savvy cybercriminals to breach the firewalls that protect your data.

Some of the most important steps that cybercriminals use in a data breach operation include:

  • Researching the company that is the target and looking for weaknesses in the company’s security network or systems – and even in the people who work for the company
  • Using the network to make initial contact
  • Using weaknesses in the system or infrastructure to gain access to a company’s computer network
  • Using social attacks to try and trick employees into allowing the cybercriminal access to the network, such as by subtly convincing employees to provide their computer login credentials
  • Gaining access to a single computer and then obtaining access to the entire computer network, including confidential company data

Major Data Breaches

Many of the world’s largest corporations have been victims of data breaches and hacking.

Some of the most common include:

Hackers also frequently target various:

In data breach scenarios, hackers attempt to gain access to a company’s computer network to access sensitive consumer information. They may then use this information to try and steal individuals’ identities or gain access to their financial information. Hackers can also sell certain types of information in bulk on Deep Web marketplaces.

Categories of information that hackers often look to steal include:

  • Names and dates of birth
  • Claims information
  • Bank account numbers
  • Physical and mailing address information
  • Member identification numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Clinical information
  • Telephone numbers
  • Email addresses

How Do Cybercriminals Use Data Breaches to Commit Identity Theft?

When an individual’s personal information becomes compromised on a computer system or network, cybercriminals can use it to their advantage.

Cybercriminals may use this information to steal others’ identities. When a cybercriminal steals a person’s identity, they can open accounts, take out credit cards, or make purchases in the victim’s name. It may take weeks, months, or even years before an individual determines that someone has stolen their identity. By then, the long-lasting effects of identity theft may take a long time to overcome.

Fortunately, you can prevent or limit the effects of identity theft that result from a data breach. One of the most important steps is to regularly check your credit report semi-annually through the three main credit reporting bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. By closely examining your credit report at least twice per year, you can search for any new accounts you don’t recognize; if you come across one, report it immediately to the appropriate credit bureau.

Also, if you learn that a data breach has occurred that might affect your interests, you can freeze your credit accounts for a certain period. This action will prevent hackers and other cybercriminals from taking out a credit card or opening another credit account in your name. However, you will need to unfreeze your credit to obtain credit during this time (such as for a home mortgage loan or car loan).

How to Protect Yourself in the Event of a Data Breach

You can take several steps to protect yourself if you become aware of a data breach. First, notify your financial institutions, including banks and credit unions, about a potential breach.

Verify all of your bank account details and change all your PIN codes as quickly as possible. Contact someone from the company whose data was compromised and ask for their help in enrolling in a fraud victim assistance program.

Don’t respond to suspicious incoming emails – especially those with poor grammar and spelling and salutations like “dear customer” rather than your first and last name. Many cybercriminals use these emails (very convincingly) to pose as legitimate corporations to obtain login credentials and other important information from users.

Moreover, you should not click on suspicious email links or download files from unknown sources. Cybercriminals also frequently use these links to upload malware and corrupt computer network systems.

How to Prove that a Company Was Negligent in Protecting Your Information

Sometimes, data breaches and hacking still occur no matter how careful individuals are when protecting themselves and their interests. Companies owe their consumers a very high legal duty of care – especially when protecting their personal and financial information.

Specifically, companies must put proper protocols in place (including the necessary software) to eliminate – or at least severely lessen – the chances of a data breach happening.

When companies do not have the proper protocols in place, a data breach occurs, and customers suffer losses, you can hold the company responsible for those losses.

To prove a company’s negligence with protecting consumer information, the injured consumer must establish several legal elements of proof:

  • The company owed you a legal duty of reasonable care
  • The company violated the duty of care they owed you – usually by failing to have the necessary protocols and safeguards in place to protect customers’ personal and financial information
  • As a direct result of the company’s duty-of-care violation, a data breach occurred at the hands of a cybercriminal
  • As a direct and foreseeable result of the data breach, one or more customers suffered financial losses and damages

If the injured consumer can establish their legal burden, they may recover monetary damages, enabling them to become whole again as much as possible. For example, injured consumers can receive compensation for the financial losses they incurred due to the company’s data breach.

A skilled data breach lawyer in your area can satisfy the elements of your claim, putting you in a position to pursue and recover the monetary damages you need.

Class Action Claims and Lawsuits

Many instances of company data breaches lead to class action claims and lawsuits. A class action claim arises when a group of similarly situated individuals (such as corporate customers) suffer losses because of a company’s negligence or carelessness.

In the case of a data breach, consumers who have suffered financial losses due to a company’s lack of protocols can pull together and file a class action claim against the company. When a class action claim or lawsuit settles, the proceeds go to the injured class members, frequently depending upon the severity of the respective financial injuries each one suffered due to the company data breach.

Class actions are very complicated legal matters, and you need experienced legal counsel representing you throughout a claim or lawsuit.

In most class actions, individual victims will not testify on the witness stand in the courtroom. Also, a class action claim will likely settle at some point out of court – without going to trial – since courtroom trials can be extremely lengthy and costly. Alternatively, a class action case might go to arbitration, where a neutral arbitrator decides the case outcome, including the amount of monetary compensation to award the injured victims.

What Happens After a Data Breach Occurs

Whenever a company data breach happens, several steps will usually unfold. First, the company and its attorneys will typically mail out a notification to consumers indicating that a data breach has occurred. The notification will then instruct the consumer to complete and return the form.

In addition, always speak with an experienced data breach lawyer immediately about all your potential legal rights and options. A lawyer can file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf and pursue compensation for any losses you incurred – including financial losses – due to the data breach.

Your lawyer can handle all of the legal aspects of your case, including filing a data breach claim or lawsuit against the corporation, negotiating with insurance company adjusters for favorable settlement compensation (for an individual or the entire class of financially injured consumers), and if necessary, litigating your case to a conclusion.

Litigating a data breach typically involves filing a lawsuit on behalf of an individual (or class) in the federal court system. These matters typically proceed in the federal courts because they involve consumers from multiple jurisdictions across state lines.

Your lawyer will do everything possible to obtain the best possible financial result for you and other similarly injured individuals.

Talk to an Experienced Data Breach Attorney in Your Area Right Away

Andrew Finkelstein

Andrew Finkelstein, Data Breach Attorney

If you become aware of a data breach, you must act quickly so that an already bad situation does not worsen. A skilled data breach lawyer in your area can go over all of your legal options with you and obtain the result you need and deserve in your case.

Meeting with a data breach attorney is a crucial step in addressing a breach’s aftermath. The attorney will review the details of the breach, including its scope, potential legal implications, and any immediate actions taken. They will outline potential actions, such as notifying affected parties, liaising with regulatory bodies, and pursuing legal remedies.

Remember, early intervention can mitigate the impact of a data breach. Seeking legal counsel promptly allows you to act decisively, safeguard sensitive information, and minimize potential liabilities. Never wait to learn about the financial relief you deserve. Call a data breach lawyer today.