In the current business environment, it seems a report surfaces nearly every day about a company falling victim to a data breach. These kinds of events can cost a business a considerable amount, not only in financial resources, but can also result in losses to their client base and damage to their reputation.

Up to this point, there have been enough data breaches to allow the security industry to identify trends in their causes. According to cybersecurity experts, here are the top vulnerabilities that result in a data breach:

1) Weak or stolen passwords

According to a recent Verizon security report that studied over 47,000 occurrences, the top cause of breaches was hacked or stolen login credentials.

“For years, experts have warned about the risks of relying on weak credentials to restrict who has access to the data, and this is still a problem,” stated Dark Reading.

To prevent falling victim to this style of attack, enterprise leaders should ensure that each member of their workforce leverages strong, complex passwords and that these credentials are not shared with others. Active directory password management software can assist these efforts by providing a secure location for login information. In this way, workers are able to establish robust passwords without fear of forgetting them.

2) Internal threats

A recent Forrester report found that malicious insiders were also a leading cause of data breaches. Although exterior risks like cybercriminals and malware infection are where many groups focus their security, businesses must also keep an eye out for suspicious activities on the part of their employees.

“According to Forrester’s research, insiders take the cake as the top source of breaches in the last 12 months with 36 percent of breaches stemming from inadvertent misuse of data by employees,” wrote CSO contributor Grant Hatchimonji.

While some of these actions may not be purposefully malicious, administrators can work to cut down on these instances by deploying a staff education program. This can include best practices for data protection as well as approved and prohibited uses of company information.

3) Operating system and application vulnerabilities

Other main causes of data breaches include exploitable weaknesses contained in an organization’s operating systems or software programs. These vulnerabilities create holes through which hackers can access sensitive enterprise information. The Verizon report found that this style of attack has increased in comparison with past years, Dark Reading stated. However, by installing security updates as soon as possible, administrators can assure that these weaknesses are patched.

This post was originally published at the CloudEntr blog.

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