A data breach occurs whenever sensitive information is released online. Sometimes human error causes a breach, such as a company failing to encrypt a customer information database. However, there’s a lot of money to be made with your information in the darker corners of the web, so there are plenty of people out there trying to scoop up your data, too. Hackers usually attack via the following methods:
Phishing: A social scam meant to fool you into clicking a link to a malicious site or downloading malware.
Brute force attack: A method where malicious software or bad actors try to guess your password.
Malware: Software that infects your devices to gather sensitive information.
How Can You Protect Yourself From a Data Breach?
The best way to keep your information safe is to use strong and unique passwords across all your accounts, store the passwords in a password manager, and use multi-factor authentication on all your password-protected accounts. Using antivirus software may help keep malware from infecting your devices, but you also should practice safe online behavior, such as not clicking on chat or SMS links from unknown senders and not downloading email attachments from untrusted sources.
What Should You Do if a Breach Happens?
The bad news is that data breaches keep happening, so you need to be prepared with a quick way to respond. Try the following three steps:
1. Change any leaked passwords
Hackers often upload the information they’ve stolen online. Anyone can find your passwords and use them to log into your accounts, even months after the initial breach.
2. Remove your data from websites you don’t use
Haven’t used MyFitnessPal in several years? Me either. The company experienced a breach in 2018, and there’s no reason why that can’t happen again. Delete any lingering personal information on websites you no longer use to ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
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3. Read the company’s response
Did you see a site you frequent on a breach list? Keep an eye on its website or blog for the company’s response. Organizations should tell customers when a breach happened and why it occurred. If the company fails to explain those points, you may want to stop doing business with them because they may not have your online safety in mind.
More Security Tips
For more advice on how to stay safe and protect your privacy, you could read 7 Signs You Have Malware and How to Get Rid of It, 12 Simple Things You Can Do to Be More Secure Online, and 4 Easy Ways to Make Your Smart Home More Secure.
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