A Guide for Keeping Your Personal Data Safe Online
We’ve all heard about the massive data breaches that have been making headline news over the past few years. From Yahoo to Equifax, these cyber attacks have compromised the data of billions of people, putting them at risk for identity theft and other malicious activities. If you’re concerned about your safety and want to protect yourself from becoming a victim of a data breach, read on! In this blog post, we will discuss the risks of data breaches and how you can protect yourself from them.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand that data breaches can happen to any organization, regardless of size or industry. In fact, the number of data breaches has been increasing steadily in recent years, with hundreds of reported incidents each year. And as cybercrime becomes more sophisticated, the risk of data breaches and identity theft increases too.
So what can you do to protect yourself from these threats? Here are a few tips:
Use strong passwords and change them often. Avoid using easily guessed words like “password” or personal information like your birthdate.
Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. This makes it easier for hackers to access all your accounts if they manage to crack just one of them.
Never share passwords with others, even if they’re family members or friends you trust completely. This tip applies especially when using public WiFi networks at places like coffee shops and airports (which are prime targets for hackers). Avoiding these shared connectivity points altogether is another option if possible!
Enable two-factor authentication wherever available – it adds an extra layer of security by requiring you to enter a code sent via SMS before logging in successfully. This way, even if someone manages to guess your password correctly on their first try, they still can’t log into your account without having access to both factors: the correct username/password combo plus this second piece of information which exists only on your phone.
Monitor credit reports regularly and make sure that all accounts listed are ones you know about – if there are any unfamiliar entries, contact the company immediately to dispute them as fraud! Also keep an eye out for suspicious activity like charges made at stores where you don’t normally shop or other red flags such as items sent overseas without your knowledge. If anything looks amiss, call up the customer service number provided by each store and report it right away before closing those lines of communication forever with identity theft victims often struggle when trying to reach businesses about their concerns). You also want to notify local authorities so they can investigate further because sometimes this type of crime spans across multiple jurisdictions which means no one agency will take action unless alerted.
Use a password manager to keep track of all your different passwords (and enable two-factor authentication on that too). This way, you only need to remember one master password to access all your other accounts. Password managers are also encrypted, so your passwords are safe even if someone manages to hack into the manager itself.
Now that we've gone over some ways you can protect yourself from hackers and identity thieves, let's take a look at what happens after the breach is discovered.
What should you do if your data has been compromised by one of these attacks?
Simple answer is - change all passwords immediately!
This step is critical because even though many companies will claim they "encrypt" their information (which means scrambling it so only authorized people can read it), some don't actually encrypt anything - or worse yet, use weak encryption methods like MD-level hashes that are easy for hackers to break through using brute force attacks on popular password lists like RockYou or MySpace. So make sure any new accounts created with your email address use strong passwords before logging into them. And remember: if in doubt about whether something is safe or not, don't use it!
In addition to changing passwords, you should also keep a close eye on your credit report. This is especially important if any of the following are true:
Your personal information (like your name and Social Security number) have been compromised in the breach
You notice unauthorized charges on your bank statement for items you didn’t purchase
Strange mail like solicitations for services you never signed up for start arriving at your house
Personal data like medical records or tax returns have been stolen
If any of these things happen, contact the credit reporting agencies immediately to place a fraud alert on your account. This will require creditors to take extra precautions before approving any new credit applications in your name.
Another thing you should do right away is call up any financial institutions where money may have been stolen from the breach - for example, if hackers were able to get into a bank's computer system and transfer funds out of accounts without authorization (as happened in some recent breaches). The sooner you notify these companies about what's going on with their systems, the better chance they'll catch it before too much damage occurs!
And finally, remember to always be vigilant about any emails or phone calls you receive that seem suspicious. Many times scammers will try and take advantage of people in the wake of a data breach by pretending to be from customer service or an organization like your bank. So if something doesn't feel right, don't hesitate to reach out for help with that organization.
Following these tips can help reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft, and they're important to remember even if you haven't been impacted by a recent data breach. For more information on protecting yourself from cybercrime visit our previous blog post.