A data breach exposes important information to outsiders, which can result in your information being used for malicious activities. Data breaches are a problem for businesses and individuals. It’s also important to note here that not all data breaches are forced and external. Let’s start by taking a brief look at different ways your data becomes exposed.
Lost property and accidents
Property theft happens without warning. If your laptop happens to be unlocked when you lose it, your information is compromised. A potentially less harmful data breach happens ones someone (a friend or colleague) reads your files by accident.
Malicious data breaches
In the case of a malicious data breach, the person hacks into the system from the outside, o, someone from the inside uses their access to read and possibly transmit your data.
Hackers use various methods to gain access, from stealing login information to credit card fraud. By finding out passwords and usernames, they not only gain access to one of your accounts but may also to all accounts where you have used the password.
To stop hackers from gaining access, use anti-malware software. Also, be cautious when storing information on your mobile device, because unsecured devices are easy targets for hackers.
If you’re worried about losing your personal or work-related data, here are some steps you can take to avoid becoming a victim.
Find out what information is available about you
Enter your name in a people search site like Nuwber to see what information is available about you. If there’s some information there true don’t want to give out publicly, ask the search site to remove that information.
Thanks to a significant increase in the value of data, there are many businesses that focus on collecting data from your publicly available records and social media. Some of the top ‘data brokers’ include Intelius, White Pages, Acxiom, TruthFinder, etc. to opt-out of these services, you will have to contact each data brokers. In some cases, the opt-out procedure will be fairly straightforward. In other cases, the company may ask you for additional identification.
Improve your security
There are a number of precautions you can take to ensure that your computer and hard drives are safe from malware and hackers. To start make sure that you are using the latest versions of the software. The older version may have some vulnerabilities that are taken care of in the newer version.
Install and good anti-malware software on all the devices you use. Depending on the software service, you may get a package deal for multiple devices. When available, use multifactor authentication instead of the standard login and password.
Use a virtual private network (VPN) service to encrypt your data and hide your IP address. Different types of encryption technology have become available in recent years. One of these encryption technologies is called Tor and it relays your data through a set of random nodes instead of directly communicating with the website server. Taking these precautions will make it harder for anyone to locate you and proceed with attacking your computer with malware.
Be careful when opening email attachments
Phishing email scams get a special mention because they are a common way people lose their data. In 2016, there were at least 255,065 unique phishing attacks globally, according to APWG. The scam involves sending people emails that appear to be from trusted sources with the intention of stealing passwords, account numbers, and other personal information. Inside the email, the scammer may give a reason to confirm your personal information, offered a coupon for a deal, entice you to click on a link, etc. Take the time to contact the company mentioned in the email. Also, report the email to Anti-Phishing Working Group at [email protected]. The APWG website also contains research about phishing activity trends and eCrime. To report the attack, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC): ftc.gov/complaint.
Make sure others are aware of security procedures
If you’re running a business or managing a team, make sure you put some resources into security awareness. With proper training, your team members will be less likely to take actions that compromise data. It’s a good idea to create a formal document that outlines security basics and informs members about their roles and responsibilities. In the document, also mention what employers should do in case of a data breach and to whom they should report the incident.
Manage passwords better
Figuring out a good password is easy these days because many sites use a password strength indicator and only accept passwords that are a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. You can also find many random password generators online.
Besides keeping strong passwords, also put some effort into managing your passwords. Change your passwords after a few months and avoid sharing them with others. Make sure that members of your team also keep strong passwords and manage them well.
Review your security
There are a number of moving parts when it comes to security. You have to review your security measures on a consistent basis to ensure that your information is still safe. Set your antivirus software to update its library of viruses, and run your antivirus software regularly.
Check the system for outdated programs manually or with the help of a system checkup software. Make sure that your backup files are in a secure place. If you have security policies in place, review those policies to see if there’s any need for amendment.
Data breaches are a reality. But, fortunately, there are different precautions we can take to avoid being a victim of one of these data steals: Minimize the information publicly available about you. Make sure that you protect your information from hackers by installing a good malware detection program and also by making yourself hard to locate. When creating a new profile, avoid reusing a password. Instead, take some time to create a strong password. Finally, stay on top of your information security by reviewing your security tools and measures.