Last Updated: Monday October 16, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, understanding the nuances between a security breach, security incident, and security attack is paramount for small businesses. Education is the key to understanding what actions put your data at risk, how they occur, what you can do to prevent, identify and remediate security occurrences.  As a business leader and owner you are responsible for educating yourself and your employees as the first line of defense. As a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP), Secur-Serv security experts aim to shed light on these distinctions, provide real-world examples, and equip businesses with the knowledge to prevent, identify, and remediate these threats.  

1. Security Breach: Unwelcome Intrusion

A security breach is the unauthorized access, disclosure, or acquisition of sensitive data. It signifies a compromise of confidentiality, integrity, or availability. For small businesses, this can lead to the exposure of sensitive customer information or proprietary data.


  1. Data Theft: A disgruntled employee copies and shares customer data with a competitor.
  2. Unauthorized Access: A weak password allows a cybercriminal to access a company’s financial records.
  3. Insider Threat: An employee inadvertently sends confidential company documents to the wrong recipient.

Prevention: To prevent a security breach, small businesses should establish robust access controls, conduct regular audits of user access, and encrypt sensitive data.

Identification: Early identification of a breach can be achieved by employing intrusion detection systems and diligently monitoring system logs for unusual activity.

Remediation: If a security breach occurs, it’s essential to isolate affected systems, remove unauthorized access, and promptly notify affected parties to minimize damage.


2. Security Incident: Unusual Event

A security incident is a broader term encompassing any adverse event that threatens the security of an organization’s information systems. It includes breaches but extends to other disruptions, such as system crashes or suspicious activity. For small businesses, incidents can disrupt operations and erode trust.


  1. Phishing Attack: An employee inadvertently clicks on a phishing link, potentially exposing the network to malware.
  2. Malware Infection: A software update triggers a malware infection, causing data loss.
  3. DDoS Attack: A sudden surge in web traffic overwhelms the website, rendering it inaccessible.

Prevention: Preventing security incidents requires comprehensive employee cybersecurity training, regular software updates, and the implementation of network monitoring tools.

Identification: Identifying security incidents involves setting up intrusion detection systems and vigilant monitoring of network traffic for anomalies.

Remediation: In the event of a security incident, small businesses should isolate affected systems, remove malware, and restore data from backups.


3. Security Attack: Deliberate Harm

A security attack is a malicious act intended to compromise the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of an organization’s data or systems. Small businesses are prime targets for these attacks, given the perception that they may have weaker defenses.


  1. Ransomware Attack: A small business’s critical files are encrypted, and the attacker demands a ransom for decryption.
  2. Brute Force Attack: An attacker systematically attempts to guess an employee’s password to access sensitive data.
  3. SQL Injection: Malicious code is injected into a web form, compromising the database.

Prevention: Preventing security attacks demands strong, unique passwords, the use of firewalls and intrusion prevention systems, and the continuous maintenance of systems and software.

Identification: Security attacks can be identified by monitoring network traffic for unusual patterns and regularly checking system logs for signs of compromise.

Remediation: When a security attack occurs, isolating affected systems, removing malicious code, and promptly reporting the incident to authorities and cybersecurity experts are crucial steps for minimizing damage and recovery.

In conclusion, distinguishing between a security breach, security incident, and security attack is crucial for businesses. Preventative measures, continuous monitoring, and swift remediation are vital strategies to bolster cybersecurity. Our team of security experts aims to help businesses safeguard their assets, protect customer trust, and thrive in the digital age. Small steps today can lead to a more secure and resilient future.  If you want more information on how you can prevent security breaches, security incidents and cyber attacks on your business using managed security services, contact our team today.