GDPR Breach: How It Can Occur & How To Prevent?

GDPR Breach

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a crucial legal framework governing the collection, processing, & storage of personal data within the European Union. However, despite the stringent regulations & severe consequences for non-compliance, data breaches still occur. A GDPR breach can have severe financial & reputational consequences for organizations, making it essential to take compliance seriously. This blog will discuss the common causes of GDPR breaches, their consequences, & how organizations can prevent them.

What Is GDPR Breach?

What Is GDPR Breach?A GDPR breach refers to a violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is a set of data protection laws in the European Union (EU). A GDPR breach occurs when personal data is accessed, processed, or disclosed without the consent of the individual or without meeting the requirements of the GDPR. GDPR requires organizations to notify authorities within 72 hours of discovering a breach.

Why & How Does Data Breach Occur In GDPR?

Data breaches can occur in GDPR for various reasons, including:

1. Human error

Human error is one of the most common causes of data breaches in GDPR. This can include anything from accidentally sending sensitive information to the wrong recipient, losing devices containing personal data, or misconfiguring security settings. Employees can be trained to prevent such errors by establishing clear data handling policies, enforcing password security, & using encryption to protect sensitive information.

2. Cyberattacks

Cyberattacks are becoming increasingly common, with hackers & cyber criminals constantly evolving their methods to steal personal data. Ransomware attacks, phishing scams, & malware infections can all result in data breaches. Organizations can protect themselves by implementing firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and security monitoring tools. Regular vulnerability assessments & penetration testing can also identify & fix any security weaknesses.

3. Third-party vendors

3. Third-party vendorsData breaches can also occur when third-party vendors or suppliers are compromised. Organizations can limit their risk by thoroughly vetting vendors before working with them, requiring them to adhere to GDPR standards, & including strict data protection clauses in contracts. Ongoing monitoring of third-party vendors can also help detect any potential security breaches.

4. Insufficient security measures

Failing to implement appropriate security measures is another major cause of data breaches. Organizations must ensure that personal data is stored & transmitted securely, with measures such as encryption, access controls, and data minimization. Regular security audits can identify any weaknesses in existing security measures and help organizations stay ahead of emerging threats. Employee training programs can also raise awareness about data protection and prevent errors that could lead to breaches.

5. Unintended disclosure

Unintended disclosure can occur when personal data is shared with unauthorized parties due to a security vulnerability, misconfiguration, or human error. For example, an employee may mistakenly email personal data to the wrong recipient, or a misconfigured server may allow unauthorized access to personal data. This can result in a data breach, particularly if sensitive personal data is involved.

6. Physical theft or loss

Physical theft or loss of devices containing personal data is a common cause of data breaches. For example, a laptop containing personal data may be stolen from an employee’s car, or a USB drive containing personal data may be lost. If the device is not encrypted or protected by appropriate security measures, the personal data stored on it can be easily accessed by unauthorized parties.

7. Social engineering

7. Social engineeringSocial engineering attacks involve tricking individuals into divulging personal data, such as login credentials or sensitive personal information. These attacks may involve pretexting, where an attacker poses as a trusted individual to obtain personal data, or baiting, where an attacker leaves a tempting object, such as a USB drive, in a public place to encourage individuals to pick it up and use it. Social engineering attacks can be particularly effective, as they exploit human trust and can bypass technical security measures.

Consequences Of GDPR Breach

There are significant consequences of a GDPR breach, including:

  • Fines: The GDPR allows authorities to impose fines of up to €20 million or 4% of an organization’s global annual revenue, whichever is higher. The severity of the fine is determined based on the nature, gravity, and duration of the infringement.
  • Legal action: Affected individuals may take legal action against organizations that breach their data protection rights. This can result in additional costs for organizations, such as legal fees and compensation payouts.
  • Reputational damage: A GDPR breach can result in significant reputational damage for an organization. Customers may lose trust in the organization & its ability to protect their data, which can have long-term consequences for the business.
  • Loss of business: A data breach can result in the loss of customers & business opportunities, particularly if the breach is widely publicized or affects a large number of individuals.
  • Regulatory sanctions: Regulatory authorities may impose additional sanctions or restrictions on organizations that breach the GDPR. Such as suspension of data processing activities or revocation of data processing licenses.

How Can One Prevent GDPR Breach?

How Can One Prevent GDPR Breach?There are several steps that organizations can take to prevent GDPR breaches:

  • Implement appropriate security measures: Organizations should implement appropriate technical and organizational security measures to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, & availability of personal data. This can include encryption, access controls, and regular vulnerability assessments.
  • Conduct regular risk assessments: Regular risk assessments can identify potential vulnerabilities and help organizations prioritize security measures. These assessments should be conducted at least annually, or whenever significant changes occur in the organization’s IT environment.
  • Provide regular data protection training to employees: Employees must be trained in data protection and security practices. This may include password management, email security, & secure data handling. Regular training & awareness programs can help prevent human error, which is a common cause of data breaches.
  • Monitor third-party vendors: Organizations should monitor their third-party vendors. Moreover, suppliers to ensure they adhere to GDPR standards & comply with contractual obligations. Vendors should be vetted thoroughly before being granted access to personal data.
  • Implement incident response plans: Organizations should have an incident response plan in place in case of a data breach. This plan should outline the steps to be taken in case of a breach, including notification of authorities & individuals.
  • Conduct regular audits: Regular audits can help identify any weaknesses in existing security measures & ensure compliance with GDPR requirements. Audits can be conducted internally or by an independent third-party auditor.

By taking these steps, organizations can minimize the risk of GDPR breaches & ensure compliance with data protection regulations.


In conclusion, a GDPR breach can have severe consequences for organizations, including financial penalties and damage to reputation. To prevent data breaches, organizations must implement appropriate security measures, conduct regular risk assessments, provide data protection training to employees, &  monitor third-party vendors. In case of a breach, organizations must have an incident response plan in place to notify the authorities & affected individuals. It’s crucial to take GDPR compliance seriously to protect personal data and avoid costly breaches. If you need help with GDPR compliance or have suffered a breach, seek help from legal and cybersecurity professionals.

If you are looking to implement any of the Infosec compliance frameworks such as SOC 2 complianceHIPAAISO 27001, and GDPR compliance, Impanix can help. Book a Free consultation call with our experts or email us at  [email protected] for inquiries.