It occurs more frequently than any of us would like to witness. There’s a data breach, according to a headline in your news feed or an email from a website or service with which you have an account. So, what do you do if you discover that your personal information has been compromised as a result of a data breach? While it may feel as if you have no control over the situation, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself.
However, before we look at how you can protect yourself, let’s explore the types of information that might be at risk.
What information can be disclosed as a result of a data breach?
The truth is that much of our information is available on the internet because we spend so much time online. Whether it’s shopping, banking, obtaining findings from our doctors, or simply playing a game now and again.
As a result, the data in every given breach will differ depending on the services and platforms implicated. A gaming service and your insurance provider will have different information about you. However, there is a wide range of information about you saved in many places, and these include the following:
- Passwords and usernames
- E-mail Address
- Phone numbers and addresses
- friends and family contact information
- Date of birth
- Number on the driver’s license
- Numbers of credit and debit cards, as well as bank account information
- History of purchases and account activity
- information about the patient (in the case of healthcare breaches)
- Social Security Number (SSN) or Tax Identification Number (TIN)
What is exposed and when you learn about it can be very different. 60% of security breaches are discovered within days after the initial attack, while others take months or even years to uncover. Needless to say, getting a message so you can take a long time, which is why you should update your passwords periodically, such as changing them every three months, irrespective of whether you’ve been hacked.
What do criminals do with your information?
Your data and information are linked to everything from your bank accounts, investments, and insurance payments—even tax returns and personal identity like driver’s licenses—they’re a kind of money in a way.
If a cybercriminal got hold of any of this information, they can commit several crimes -ranging from theft to fraud. In the case of fraud, that could include running up a bill on one of your credits cards or draining one of your bank accounts. In case of theft, that could involve cybercriminals impersonating you to open new accounts or services under your name. Beyond that, they may attempt to claim your tax refund or potentially get an ID issued in your name as well.
There’s no telling what could happen if your information gets into the hands of criminals. Maybe they’ll sell it on the dark web for a few dollars. These dark-market methods allow other fraudsters and thieves to take advantage of your identity for financial or another benefit, regardless of how it is sold.
The majority of breaches are motivated by money; however, we’ve also seen hackers simply dump stolen data on the internet for everyone to see. The motivations for them vary, however they could range from damaging an organization’s reputation to cases of revenge.
Noteworthy examples of data breaches
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most significant breaches we’ve seen in recent years:
2019 – Facebook: More than 530 million users’ records, including phone numbers, account names, Facebook IDs, and more, were exposed in two datasets.
2018 – Marriott International (Starwood): 500,000 names, emails, physical mailing addresses, phone numbers, passport numbers, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, dates of birth, and information about stays were leaked.
2017 – Equifax: A total of 147 million records were exposed, including names, addresses, dates of birth, driver’s license numbers, and Social Security numbers, as well as credit card information for an additional 200,000 people.
Needless to say, major businesses aren’t the only ones who suffer. The data of healthcare facilities, as well as the operations of popular restaurants, has been compromised. 43% of data dumps are aimed at small businesses. An attack on the place where such businesses store their records, a disgruntled employee, or a compromised point-of-sale terminal in their store, office, or location are all possibilities.
In summary, because almost every business is online in some shape or fashion, nearly any firm is a possible target when it comes to data breaches. Even if it’s just through a point-of-sale machine.
If you think your information has been exposed by a breach, take the following steps:
When a company, service, or organization suffers a data breach, it doesn’t always mean you’ll be a victim as well. It’s possible that none of your information was caught up in it. It’s best to act as if it were, though. With that in mind, we strongly advise you to take the following steps right away.
1. Use two-factor authentication and change your passwords.
If you think your password has been compromised by a hacker, update it right away. Using strong, unique passwords is one of your best defenses against hackers. They should also be changed every three months at the very least. As previously said, this can protect you in the event of a data breach that you don’t discover until much later. Using a password manager to keep track of everything for you can save you time and effort. If your account enables it, use two-factor authentication as part of the login process, as it adds another layer of security that makes hacking more difficult.
2. Keep a close eye on your finances.
Follow up right away if you see any strange or unexpected charges or transactions on your account, bank, or debit card statements. This could imply erroneous usage. In general, banks, credit card companies, and many other organizations have anti-fraud mechanisms in place, as well as customer service teams who may assist you in filing a claim if necessary.
3. Enroll in an identity theft protection service.
Consider signing up for a service that can monitor dozens of categories of personal information and tell you if any of them is being misused if you haven’t already.
Invest in a strong cybersecurity program. A strong cybersecurity tool will be able to detect the threat, stop the download, and prevent malware from entering your network if you accidentally click a malicious link or open a bad file. Siccura, for example, offers security solutions for corporate users like you.