Data breaches have become all too common in our always-connected, internet-dependent world, but you don’t have to become a victim if your data is stolen online. There are several measures you can take to limit the damage and protect yourself from criminals while keeping your personal finances, credit score, and identity safe.
Change your passwords
It's a good idea to update your passwords on a regular basis, but it's especially important to do so after a data breach. Don’t use the same password for all of your online accounts. A "strong" password has at least 8 characters and includes both letters, numbers, and symbols. Also consider using a password manager like LastPass to help secure, generate, and keep track of your passwords.
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Sign up for two-factor authentication
In addition to updating your passwords, consider enrolling in two-factor authentication (also known as "2FA" or "two-step verification") on any services that offer it. This is a second level of security for your account logins that many sites now provide. With two-factor authentication, your online account will require you to enter an additional level of identification to access your account – such as a code texted to your phone. This means that even if hackers get your email and password, they can't get into your account without that second factor of identity verification.
Check for company updates
If your data is stolen in a major breach on any platform, the firm will almost certainly issue frequent updates and notifications regarding which individuals were impacted. For example, after a Facebook data breach, the company automatically logged out the users whose accounts were affected and sent them messages via the platform about what had happened and what to do next. After the Equifax data breach, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) offered a series of advisories and steps that people could take to protect themselves.
Double-check your accounts and credit reports
It's critical to be on the lookout after a data breach, and to pay extra attention to your account activity, which includes both your account with the firm that suffered the breach, as well as your bank and other financial accounts. Read your credit card statements closely and watch for suspicious transactions. When a significant data breach occurs at a company, it usually offers affected consumers a year of credit monitoring for free.
Freeze your payment accounts if necessary
You might also consider completely freezing your credit. There is no cost to freeze your credit, and it will prevent any new credit accounts from being established in your name. Identity thieves who have access to all of your personal information cannot open new accounts under your name if your credit is frozen. The only disadvantage of freezing your credit is that it prevents you from applying for new credit, so don't do it if you're planning on applying for an auto loan, house loan, or credit card account. You may unfreeze your credit at any time.
Cybersecurity is challenging for any one person or small team to tackle. Our team at SeedSpark has decades of experience in delivering state-of-the-art cybersecurity solutions to our clients, providing protective protection and backup and disaster recovery solutions that let them know that their data is secure.