Data breaches are more common now than ever before. The truth is, no matter how secure your data might appear, there is a very high chance that your personal data has been compromised in some form or another. There are a lot of companies that don’t even inform users in case of a data breach. But in case you are informed of a data breach, one of the first steps to take is to find out what information was compromised. Don’t panic and instead take steps to protect yourself. When you know what kind of data is compromised, it is a lot easier to do damage control. In case you’ve been wondering what steps to take if your personal data has been breached, we’re here to help.
Types of Data Breaches
The kind of information that has been leaked will play a large part in determining what steps you should be taking after any data breach. The organization or company where the data breach took place will help you figure this out to some extent.
The following are some types of data breaches that you might be subjected to:
Financial Data Breach
A financial data breach can expose information like your bank account details, credit card number, social security number and more. This information can be used by cybercriminals to apply for credit cards, bank accounts and loans under your name. Wire fraud, credit card fraud, computer fraud and mail fraud are some common crimes related to financial data breaches.
Healthcare Data Breach
Your healthcare data is usually stored at hospitals you go to or insurance companies that you have signed up with. If their systems are attacked, your healthcare data might have suffered a breach as well. Hackers can use this data for medical identity theft. They can get treatment, prescriptions and more under your identity. This can affect you when you are in a medical emergency, cost you a lot of money and also affect the healthcare coverage you have.
Education Data Breach
If your university or school has been hacked into, it can leak a lot of sensitive information about yourself and your family. These institutions usually have a lot of personal information stored and are easy targets for hackers.
Government Data Breach
If your local or central government organization suffers a breach, it can compromise a lot of your personal data like birthdate, name, address, social security number and more. This can subject you to the risk of tax refund fraud, identity fraud or more serious crimes.
Entertainment Data Breach
When your personal data is stolen from entertainment companies or events like a concert you attended, it is called an entertainment data breach. It might be your name, email or address that you provided for signing up. It could also be your credit card number used for purchasing tickets or any services.
Regardless of the type of data breach, if your personal information is compromised, it is important to proactively try and secure it as best as possible.
What to do if your Personal Data has been Breached?
Here are some simple steps to take as soon as you are informed of or suspect a data breach of your personal information:
Change your passwords
In general, changing your passwords on any platform from time to time is a recommended course of action. This is especially important in case of a data breach. Set a password that is unique and strong. Also remember that you should avoid using the same password for multiple accounts or platforms. A strong password will usually have at least 8 characters with numbers, symbols and letters as well as an uppercase and lowercase mixture. Avoid writing down these passwords in a place that someone else might have access to.
Set up two-factor authentication
This is another step to add security to your login information. This added layer is available on most services these days and should be taken advantage of. It will usually be in the form of a code that is sent to your email or phone number that has to be entered in after the password. So even if a hacker figures out your password, they can’t access your account without this code.
Pay attention to your account statements
If the data breach resulted in any financial information being stolen, it is important to pay attention to your accounts. Be vigilant and take note of all the activity that occurs on your account or cards. If there are any suspicious transactions, notify your bank immediately. You can also freeze your credit so hackers cannot use it to open any new account using your identity. If you plan on applying for a new credit card or loan soon, this option cannot be used. However, your credit can be unfrozen at any point of time that you feel is safe again.
Consider signing up for an identity theft protection service
With the increase in cybercrimes, there are a lot of companies that offer identity theft protection services. Although these are not cheap, they might be worth the money if you have a lot at stake. However, you can also do a lot of the work yourself instead. Another option is to ask the company if they can monitor your credit for free as compensation if they don’t offer it themselves.
A data breach can lead to various kinds of fraud like identity theft and are a big hassle for both the company and you to tackle. If you find yourself a victim of a data breach, taking some steps to protect yourself can help mitigate the damage to a large extent.