The Difference Between A Hack And A Breach

The Difference Between A Hack And A Breach

There are lots of ways your data can be compromised.

In the news, you may see some stories about data being hacked, while in others they talk about a breach. They are often used interchangeably, but in reality, they are quite different.

Quite simply, a hack involves malicious behavior, where cybercriminals find a way to compromise IT and steal data or hold it hostage. A breach is when data is left unsecured; it’s vulnerable to an attack, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s occurred.

Big difference. Yet both should be protected against, and should have requirements in place to reduce their potential.

A Hack

Let’s start with a hack. Hackers are often glorified in Hollywood; some of the most action-packed films have been based on coders typing away to penetrate systems. They make it their business to try and get in. What they do depends on what type of hacker they are.

Have you heard the terms “black hat” and “white hat?” They refer to the two different types of hackers, and it’s probably not too difficult to guess which is which. White hat hackers work for software security firms. Their jobs are to stay one step ahead of a compromise by testing, finding weaknesses, and plugging holes. Black hat hackers, of course, are the ones trying to get in.

A Breach

A breach is a much broader term, referring to many different types of cybersecurity compromises. It can be as simple as a mistake. It can be negligence, something someone purposely sets into play.

The problem with breaches is companies don’t know what they don’t know.  With hundreds - thousands - of new digital gadgets and systems coming online every day, there are bound to be leaks and holes that leave opportunity for those who wish to take it. While that can be bad for sites that deal with things like videos or pictures, when you’re dealing with healthcare data and HIPAA laws, the results can be devastating.


The only way to make a dent in preventing hacks and breaches from occurring is to make it a part of your own culture. Security should be a daily topic if you’re going to thwart actions that can hurt you the most. Staff members should be on the lookout for bringing awareness to any weaknesses.

Of course, even with the best intentions, things can always go wrong. When the worst happens, it’s crucial to have a plan in place. The only way a business can be compromised is with weak cybersecurity.

  • 58 percent of data breach victims are small business owners
  • 22 percent of data breaches in 2017 began with stolen credentials
  • 36 percent of compromised data was personal information with names, birthdays, and gender
  • 93 percent of malware comes from email

Hacks and breaches are ever-increasing. The only question now is: Are you prepared for the future?

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