What Is a Data Breach and Leak?

When cybercriminals hack into a corporation’s computer networks and systems, they can expose large amounts of consumers’ personal information and financial data. This can lead to hefty financial losses for consumers and identity theft in some cases.

Although hackers and criminals bear primary responsibility for these data breaches, large companies also have a duty to keep the proper protocols and safety mechanisms in place to lessen or eliminate data breaches. Additionally, if a company becomes aware of a data breach, they have a duty to inform their consumers. Ultimately, they may have to pay significant monetary fines and other penalties to compensate for the financial losses sustained.

If you are a recent victim of a company data breach or leak, consult an experienced data breach lawyer near you right away. In data breach cases, time is of the essence, and the longer you wait to retain legal counsel, the lower your chances of obtaining the favorable monetary compensation you deserve.

New York personal injury lawyers at Jacoby & Meyers, LLP have experienced to deal personal injury as well as data breach cases, can discuss your circumstances with you and develop a plan of action for your case. In some circumstances, an attorney can file a claim or lawsuit on your behalf to recoup your financial losses.

Many companies have large cyber insurance policies to cover a data breach and leak. Your lawyer will do everything possible to maximize the compensation you recover in your case through a favorable settlement offer or favorable litigation result in the court system.

Defining a Data Breach and Leak

What Is a Data Breach and Leak

Data leaks and breaches happen when a cybercriminal gains access to a company’s computer network or system. Cybercriminals take these actions to steal files from the system and gain access to important and sensitive data, including personal information.

Sometimes, a cybercriminal can remotely bypass a computer’s security system. At other times, however, a cybercriminal might physically access a computer or computer system and actively take files. In the case of large corporations, the remote approach is typically the route that cybercriminals take.

A corporate data breach and leak is usually a very complex operation, and cybercriminals who successfully accomplish these feats are very intelligent. Whenever a cybercriminal decides to commit a data breach, they will typically follow several important steps, including researching the target and looking for weaknesses in the computer system or network.

The cybercriminal will then use these weaknesses to try and make initial contact with a system and ultimately gain access to the company’s full network. They may also use social attacks to entice company employees to give up their login credentials or passwords and gain access to the entire system, including sensitive data and personal information stored on company sites.

What Are Some Recently Major Corporate Data Breaches and Leaks?

Unfortunately, corporate data breaches and leaks have become a frequent occurrence. In fact, over time, many individuals have become desensitized to the possibility of a data breach in light of the frequent news and internet coverage of these events.

Some of the most common corporate data breaches that have happened in recent years – many of which are the subject of class action claims and lawsuits – include:

Cybercriminals and hackers may target organizations and entities like:

  • Businesses
  • The military
  • Governmental entities
  • Education systems (including a county board of education)
  • Credit, banking, and financial industries
  • Medical and healthcare organizations
  • Pharmaceutical companies

In a data breach and leak, a cybercriminal will typically try to access sensitive personal information by gaining access to a company-wide computer system or computer network.

Once the hacker obtains the personal information they need, they might use it to steal others’ identities, commit credit card fraud, and pursue a whole host of other financial crimes, resulting in millions of dollars in losses. A cybercriminal may also sell consumers’ personal information on the Dark Web in bulk.

To commit financial crimes, cybercriminals are ultimately looking for various types of personal identifying information.

That information includes:

  • Names
  • Birthdates
  • Bank account or credit card numbers
  • Claims information
  • Telephone numbers
  • Social Security numbers
  • Member identification numbers
  • Personal identification numbers (PIN)
  • Mailing address information
  • Email addresses
  • Clinical information

Using Data Breaches to Commit Cybercrimes

Many cybercriminals hack into a company’s computer system and commit a data breach to steal others’ identities. When another individual steals your identity, they can make purchases in your name, take out credit cards, and open bank accounts.

Generally speaking, the sooner someone discovers someone stole their identity, the sooner they can take steps to lessen or eliminate the problem. However, when a cybercriminal successfully steals your identity, it can take years to resolve the issue.

If a company notifies you that its data was breached, confront the problem head-on.

First, you check your credit reports on Experian, TransUnion, or Equifax, typically at least twice a year. When you pull up your credit report, review it thoroughly and look for unknown accounts that someone else might have opened in your name. If you come across one of these accounts, file a report with the appropriate credit bureau as quickly as possible. That way, the credit bureau can take appropriate steps to address the problem.

Additionally, if a company notifies you that a data breach has occurred, you can freeze your credit report for a specified amount of time. Hackers cannot open a credit card or charge account in your name when you freeze your credit report. However, you cannot obtain credit, such as for a home mortgage or vehicle loan, until you unfreeze your report.

What Should You Do After a Data Breach and Leak

If a company notifies you about a data breach and leak, notify your financial institutions, such as credit unions and banks. Change your access codes, including PINs, as quickly as possible. The company that was subject to the data breach and leak can also enroll you in an assistance program for fraud victims.

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Emails that begin with salutations like “dear consumer” and have poor spelling and grammar most likely come from outside hackers attempting to access your account. Never provide personal information or any login credentials to these individuals.

Additionally, beware of links in these emails and refrain from clicking on them. Clicking on one of these links may corrupt your device, allowing a hacker to gain access to it.

Are Companies Ultimately Responsible for Data Breaches and Leaks?

Companies owe their consumers a very high legal duty of care when protecting their personal information.

When companies do not have the necessary software and protocols in place, and a data breach and leak occurs, their consumers’ personal information and financial information may become compromised, potentially subjecting them to financial losses and other hardships. If that happens, you can hold the company responsible.

To recover monetary compensation as part of a data breach, you must establish various legal elements of proof:

  1. You have to show the company owed you a legal duty of care they subsequently violated.
  2. You must demonstrate that the company’s duty-of-care violation, including their refusal to put the proper safety protocols in place, resulted in the data breach and leak.
  3. You must show that you suffered financial losses and damages due to the company’s negligence.

If you can successfully satisfy these legal elements of proof in your case, you can recover financial damages for all your losses. For example, you can recoup your financial losses from the data breach. Many companies must also have cyber insurance in place to compensate consumer victims of cybercrimes for their financial losses.

A knowledgeable data breach attorney can satisfy the legal elements of proof in your case and recover the monetary damages you need for all your financial losses.

What is a Class Action in a Data Breach Case?

Data leaks and breaches may affect countless corporate consumers, many in various places throughout the country. Similarly situated individuals who suffer injuries or harm at the hands of a single corporation or entity can pursue a class action claim or lawsuit.

These types of cases are extremely complex, and you must have a knowledgeable team of attorneys representing you and advocating for your interests throughout the case.

Most class action claims and lawsuits settle because in-court litigation, such as a trial, requires so much time and money. At other times, these cases may come before a neutral arbitrator who decides the amount of monetary compensation to award affected consumers for their financial losses.

An experienced data breach attorney in your jurisdiction can review all of your legal options with you and take the steps necessary to maximize the monetary recovery you receive for your financial losses.

What Usually Happens Following a Company Data Breach?

Following a company data breach, the company whose data was exposed will usually notify consumers as quickly as possible, letting them know about the breach, when it likely happened, and how it likely occurred (if known). When a consumer receives one of these notifications in the mail, they should fill it out and return it right away.

Once you become aware of a data breach, speaking with experienced legal counsel about your potential options and rights is also a good idea. A data breach lawyer can pursue a class action claim or a lawsuit on your behalf, negotiate with insurance company representatives, and recoup the financial losses you suffered due to identity theft or other criminal activity.

If litigation becomes necessary in the case, your lawyer may file a class action lawsuit in the appropriate court.

Since many data breach and leak cases involve consumers nationwide, your attorney may file a class action lawsuit on your behalf in the Federal Court System.

Your attorney can then navigate the litigation process for you and pursue a favorable result in your case. This is a complex process that is sometimes necessary to obtain the financial and legal relief you deserve. You need an aggressive litigator handling this process to protect yourself.

Contact a Data Breach Attorney Near You Today for the Legal Support You Need

Andrew Finkelstein

New York Data Privacy Lawyer, Andrew Finkelstein

A data breach attorney in your area can act quickly to pursue the necessary monetary compensation.

As soon as you become aware of a data breach and leak, always seek legal counsel to represent you as quickly as possible. Otherwise, the circumstances may grow significantly worse.

At every stage of the proceedings, your lawyer will advocate aggressively on your behalf and achieve the best possible result in your case.

They can guide you through the legal complexities, assess potential liabilities, and help you take appropriate action.

An attorney will ensure compliance with data breach notification laws, safeguard sensitive information, and advise on any necessary legal proceedings. With their representation, you can navigate the aftermath of a data breach with confidence, protecting both your interests and the privacy of those affected.

Don’t delay in seeking legal counsel to mitigate the impact and secure your path forward.