Different Types of Data Breaches

type of data breachData Breaches have been all over the news lately, but what do they mean exactly when they say “Data Breach”? There are three different types of data breaches—Physical, Electronic, and Skimming.

These all share the same amount of risk and consequences, but find out the differences between them and how you can protect your business from them using document shredding or electronic media destruction services today.

Three Types of Data Breaches


A physical breach involves the physical theft of documents or equipment containing cardholder account data such as cardholder receipts, files, PCs, and POS systems. It can also be referred to as corporate espionage.

When it comes to your paper or hard-copy documents and materials, be sure to keep track of what you own and who has possession of the physical technology:

  • Laptop and Desktop Computers
  • Servers
  • Any other technologies that may contain cardholder data such as Point-of-Sale Equipment (Standalone Dial-Up Terminals)
  • Any other physical asset that may contain cardholder data, including hard-copy bills, faxes, or credit card receipts


electronic data breachAn electronic breach is the un-authorized access or deliberate attack on a system or network environment where cardholder data is processed, stored or transmitted. This can be the result of acquiring access, via web servers or websites to a system’s vulnerabilities through application-level attacks.

Because of the large number of individuals seen on a daily basis in the healthcare industry, many medical practices become the unfortunate target of electronic data breaches, as gaining access to their network exposes a wealth of patient billing information.

In order to best protect themselves, many experts agree that it is critical for businesses using electronic media to encrypt their information, making it difficult to decipher even if someone gains unauthorized access.

Additionally, companies are also strongly encouraged to adopt the use of hard drive shredding and electronic media destruction prior to disposing their electronic devices, as this absolute destruction of the device ensures that the information it contains will no longer be recoverable after your business has gotten rid of it.


Skimming involves the capture and recording of magnetic stripe data on the back of credit cards. This process uses an external device which is sometimes installed on a merchant’s POS without their knowledge. Skimming can also involve a dishonest employee utilizing an external device to collect the card magnetic stripe data. These identity thieves then use this data to create counterfeit credit and debit cards.

Here a few guidelines for minimizing the potential for skimming:

  • Closely monitor handling of cards when employees have frequent physical possession of credit cards out of view of the cardholder.
  • Closely monitor activity on Point-of-Sale terminals and PIN-pad devices.
  • Regularly check equipment for attached skimming devices or evidence of tampering.
  • Ensure you are not using a known vulnerable Point-of-Sale terminal or PIN-pad device by contacting your credit card processing service provider.
  • Petroleum businesses should have procedures to monitor activity at outdoor Point-of-Sale pumps. This must include opening devices regularly to check for tampering or installed skimming devices.

Get Free, No-Obligation Quotes on Shredding Services and Protect Yourself from Data Breaches!

Whether it is a dumpster-diving identity thief searching for your discarded medical bills, or a hacker targeting your company’s network to steal customer information, it is imperative that you take the steps to shred your paper documents and electronic media in order to protect yourself from falling victim to a data breach.

That’s why at Shred Nations, we partner with a nationwide network of the top paper and electronic media destruction companies. Able to provide the secure shredding services that your sensitive documents, files, and information require, you can rest assured knowing that with Shred Nations, you information won’t be falling into the wrong hands.

To get started protecting both yourself and your business from a data breach, just give us a call at (800) 747-3365or simply fill out the form to your right to get free quotes on any of our document destruction services. Within minutes, we’ll contact you with a list of local contractors who can help you to securely protect your information from the threat of a data breach.