Cybersecurity 101: What To Do If Your Data Is Involved In A Data Breach

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Cybersecurity 101 By Z6Mag
Photo: CEBIT AUSTRALIA/Flickr

There is no way that one can downplay the gravity of the world’s data security problem. Day after day, reports of a new database from various companies are exposed online and is dominating most of our security-related conversations. Billions of people have been affected, and it’s most likely that your data has been exposed or compromised one way or another.

Of course, these data breaches vary in degrees. Some were spotted earlier than the other, allowing them to secure their database before someone used it for their criminal activities. Some, however, remains accessible until today, and it’s pretty much available for everyone to use. There are also data that are relatively harmless – like names, email address, breed-readiness, etc. However, there are also data that were very sensitive like nude images, phone recordings, credit card details, passwords, and social security numbers.

Protecting your data from being exposed is one way to ensure that your data will not end up in an unprotected database somewhere. But that only goes as far as it can. There are data that, no matter how much you protect them, can still fall in the hands of dangerous people.

Hence, it is indispensable to know what to do if in case your data becomes public. Here are a few things that you can do to mitigate the effects of a data leak:

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DATA HAS BEEN LEAKED?

Read the news.

Making yourself aware of the recent data breaches will prepare you for the worst days to come. If you are updated with the recent cyber attacks, you can be able to plan out what to do in case your data is part of the database that has been exposed.

Furthermore, by being updated and aware of the recent data attacks, you will be alerted if the company or the app or the website that has your data was breached. In that case, you can immediately take action to protect yourself if in case someone uses your exposed data against you. Remember: knowledge is power.

Determine what kind of data is leaked.

As mentioned earlier, there is a varying intensity of the effects of data breaches. It is essential to know what kind of data was compromised so that you will know what steps to take to mitigate its possible effect on you. For starters, there are three primary intensities of data breaches:

  1. Least Sensitive Breaches – This kind of data breaches only exposed harmless data like your name and your email address. With this kind of breach, the worst that can happen to you is increased traffic in your spam folder.
  2. More Sensitive Breaches – This kind of breaches are more harmful as they usually include some sensitive information that you don’t want even your friends to know. Examples of these data are credit card numbers and date of birth. While a stolen credit card number may result in fraudulent charges, the cardholder will eventually be protected from the liability if this happened. On the other hand, the date of birth can be used to verify identity since it doesn’t change unlike address or phone numbers.
  3. Most Sensitive Breaches – This kind of breaches deal with confidential information of a person like your social security number. When criminal elements take hold of your social security number and your name, it becomes easy for them to impersonate you resulting in identity and financial theft.

Change all affected passwords.

If an online account has been compromised, it is necessary to change all affected passwords immediately. One tip is to make the new password stronger than the previous password. It is even more advisable to replace all account passwords in all the services you use to make sure. Avoid reusing passwords in other accounts; that way, you will be limiting the damage if in case a breach happens.

Contact relevant financial institutions.

Once your data is exposed and is way up there – especially your credit card information – contacting the card issuer immediately will protect you from fraudulent charges. Make sure that you personally appear to the institution or to talk to a human representative. Explain to them that your account is at risk of fraud and ask the card issuer to alert you if it detects suspicious activity. Most likely, the company will cancel the card and issue a new one straight away.

Contact credit-reporting bureaus.

By contacting credit-reporting bureaus and asking them to place a fraud alert on your name, you will be notified if in case someone impersonates you or steal your financial identity. For example, if someone decides to open a credit card account in your name, you will know. These alerts are free and can be renewed every 90 days, at least in the U.S.

In conclusion:

All of these tips are a few of the things to do for you to mitigate the effects of a data breach. The best thing to do, however, is prevention. /apr

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