Security | Oct 12, 2021

Data Breaches: Is Your Data Secure? If Not, Time Is Not On Your Side

Another day, another hack…

 Every 39 seconds a hacker attacks, putting one out of every three Americans at risk for identity theft, fraud, and compromising their personal data.

 As technology continues to advance and expand exponentially, data and security breaches become more commonplace. 

 More than 1,000 individuals suffer from data breaches each year, with hackers gaining access to personal and sensitive data such as credit card information, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, passwords, and more.

 In today’s fast paced digital world, cyber crimes are skyrocketing at alarming rates as hackers are getting smarter with their methods and techniques. With more than 57% of companies suffering from data breaches, there’s growing concern among consumers of companies’ capability to protect their sensitive data from hackers.

 So, what does this mean for consumers? And more importantly, what should you do if you’ve been a victim of a recent data breach? Keep reading to learn more about the 4 steps you should take if your personal data has been exposed. 

What Can Hackers Do With Your Data?

Massive data breaches put consumers at major financial risk due to identity theft and fraud. The stolen social security numbers can be used to gain easy access to customer’s existing bank accounts or open new accounts.

 Stealing an identity allows hackers and criminals to add their name to a customer’s bank account or simply transfer funds. They may also merge the stolen data with other sensitive information into a single database to increase its value.

 Companies are more aggressively implementing measures to identify security risks and prevent data breaches from happening, but it’s a huge problem and hackers are constantly evolving. The security teams charged with these efforts are, in many cases, unsuccessful, which emphasizes the scope of the problem. 

 As a result, consumers are growing cynical of companies mismanaging their data. If you are concerned that your data may be vulnerable or are looking for ways to protect yourself, here are 4 things you can do:

How to Protect Yourself

  1. Freeze Your Credit

Freezing your credit can prevent identity thieves from opening new accounts in your name or taking out any loans under your name. To freeze your credit reports, you’ll need to contact all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion and request a freeze on your credit reports. This prevents anyone with your personal information from opening any new lines of credit. It is completely free and will not affect your credit score.

Note: Keep in mind that you’ll need to lift the freeze temporarily when you want to give a company access to your credit information for a loan, credit card, etc.

  1. Change Your Passwords & PINs

It is vital that you change your passwords and PIN immediately after a data breach.  Experts strongly recommend that its customers change their account passwords and PIN to prevent any further damage. Customers can change their passwords by logging into their accounts or calling customer service. It is also highly recommended that you change passwords on other accounts that may have the same information as the account that’s been exposed. Experts suggest using a password manager to help you be more efficient in creating passwords. A password manager is a service that helps users create and store unique, complex passwords for their accounts. Password managers can act as an extra level of security for users.

  1. Use Two-Factor Authentication

When it comes to your online accounts, you should always have two-factor authentication enabled. Two factor authentication requires a password and a second form of ID, such as a code sent to your phone or a hardware key, to log into your accounts. This prevents hackers from accessing your accounts even if they have your password. When a bad actor steals your password, they can lock you out of your account and pretend to be you in order to gain access to other accounts or personal data. Therefore, two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security to ensure that you’re the only one who can access your account on a trusted device or website. Two-factor authentication can make your account stronger.

  1. Monitor the Situation

 If your data has potentially been exposed, it is important to monitor the situation to ensure that your data has not been compromised. This includes monitoring your credit reports to make sure that someone has not stolen your identity. Many companies offer free credit monitoring to victims of a data breach for a limited time. Security software companies like McAfee offer protection services like McAfee’s ID Theft Protection Service to victims affected by recent data breaches. Additionally, there are also services such as identity and credit monitoring services that will help you watch your credit report and send you an alert regarding any suspicious activity on your account as soon as it happens. Identity monitoring services will monitor the dark web for anyone who may be selling or trading your personal information as well.

Don’t Wait to Protect Your Personal Data

 Bottom line- do not wait for the company to make suggestions on what you should do after a data breach. Instead, be proactive and take swift action. By following those 4 steps, you can prevent further damage from occurring after a data breach.

 Remember, it is your personal data and financial records that are at risk. Begin changing your passwords and PINs, enable two factor authentication, freeze your credit, use credit and identity monitoring services, and continue to monitor the situation for updates from the company or any other suspicious activity.

 Consider other solutions and suggestions from the company in addition to following those 4 steps. Be proactive and stay vigilant against cyberattacks.

 You can learn more about how companies can improve their cyber resilience to combat cyber-attacks by reading our blog.  

 

 

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