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Every day, it seems like news comes out about a data breach. When corporations fall victim to a data leak, huge amounts of customer information can fall into the hands of hackers and fraudsters. If you're one of those unfortunate customers, is there anything you can do to protect yourself?
Yes, you can, but first, you need to know if your data's been leaked in the first place. Here, you can learn how data breaches happen, what personal information is at risk, and how you can stay safe in today's digital world.
Data breaches can happen for all types of different reasons. They're usually the result of a security incident, in which a nefarious individual bypasses a company's security defences to steal information. The cybercriminal might take that information and peddle it on the dark web for profit or use it to steal identities and commit fraud.
This may sound like negligence on the part of the company. Why don't they have better security defences to keep hackers and cybercriminals out? The truth is you can never lock down your defences 100%.
Cybercriminals are constantly finding new ways around security defences and finding their way in. Companies can try their hardest to keep hackers out, but the war will never end. Instead, it's all about staying proactive and mitigating damage as fast as possible.
If a company falls victim to a data breach, they should contact you and let you know if your data has been exposed or compromised. Sometimes, personal information will be safe, but the company will have lost other sensitive data, like proprietary information. More regulations are being put in place for this reason.
Regardless, it's never a good situation. Companies can take huge blows to their reputation from data breaches, and customers will have to fend for themselves. Because of this, you must understand what you have to lose and how to protect yourself.
The impact of stolen data can range from minor to severe. On the minor end of the spectrum, a cybercriminal may get their hands on your name or phone number. Have you ever received robocall after robocall?
If so, your phone number might have been compromised, and you're now a target of phone scams trying to get even more information out of you. Certain websites require a name and phone number to sign up, too, so someone could steal your identity and pretend they are you.
Moving along the spectrum, you could lose your date of birth or your street address. That can become more ammo used to access websites with strict security questions or that require more information to create an account. At worst, you could lose your email account, your bank account information, and even your healthcare history.
Cybercriminals will do whatever they can to get ahold of your personal information. If they figure out your password to any online account, they can then buy and purchase things in your name. They can also sell this information on the dark web for profit, spreading your data across the criminal market and making it more difficult to secure.
Dealing with all this risk may feel intimidating, but you shouldn't let it paralyse you. More and more online privacy restrictions are being created and enforced to protect consumers everywhere. You should also take the time to defend yourself as best you can.
You can protect your data in a few ways. First, you should always research a company before doing business with them. Look for their digital security policies, and if they seem fishy, stay away.
That said, every business is at risk of a data breach, so even if you trust a business, you're still putting your data at risk. Since this is the case, you should try to keep your personal data close to your chest. If you can opt-out of giving a company your information, do so unless necessary.
Then, you should take extra precautions around your account information. The first line of defence is your password. You should never use the same password for multiple sites.
When creating a password, use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as special characters. The longer, the better. While tempting to make it something easy to remember, you should stay away from obvious words or phrases that others can guess.
Alternatively, you can create a password by stringing four words together, like "peachmousetreesky." These passwords tend to be harder to break. You should also avoid writing your passwords down; instead, use a password manager to store passwords and generate strong ones.
A good rule of thumb is to never connect to unsecured or public Wi-Fi networks. You may feel tempted to connect to a coffee shop's Wi-Fi, but a hacker may spoof the network name and use that to access your information.
Even if you follow these steps, your data may still get stolen. For this reason, you should check your bank account, credit card activity, and credit report regularly. This will allow you to catch any fraudulent activity and report it immediately.
You can also use a monitoring system to keep track of your information online automatically. Monitoring tools can do this heavy lifting for you, and when your information is compromised, you can then change it before any further damage is done.
A data breach can happen at any moment. Even if you have strong passwords and identity protection in place, your personal information is at risk. Huge corporations and small businesses alike can fall victim to a data leak or breach, leaving your information exposed.
To stay safe, you need to stay proactive. At WeProtectID, we will monitor your social information for you and alert you if your data has been compromised. Doing so will allow you to achieve peace of mind knowing your data is safe, and in the event of a breach, you can change your information immediately.
If you'd like to learn more about our services, don't hesitate to contact us today.