What to do if your personal data is compromised online, and how to protect yourself from data breaches.

A data breach is when your personal data is accessed, duplicated or edited by someone without your permission. The majority of data breaches involve hacked email accounts and stolen bank credentials.

One of the simplest forms of a data breach is a hacked email account. Once someone gets your email password and logs into your account, they breach your data. Having your email credentials will allow hackers to send emails on your behalf, see your contacts and sell your email address to marketers. They may also be able to reset passwords for accounts that use this email address. Once they have access to these accounts, they could order additional items from services that have banks details saved. (for example amazon).

Top Tip: If you get a notification from your device saying that your passwords have been involved in a data breach, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your account has been hacked. More likely, your password has been included in a massive company leak.

Believe it or not, these hackers are not always the masterminds you see in films. A great deal of these breaches come from social engineering scams, where people are tricked into giving away personal information.

You can protect yourself from data breaches by using different passwords on different services, making backups and double-checking when clicking links.

Most people use the internet every single day! Like most things in life, it comes with its ups, and it’s down. Whilst it is great for remote working, shopping, and chatting with friends, it has risks.

In 2021 there were over 400,000 reports of fraud and cybercrime in the UK. While many of these complaints came from individuals who were tricked into sending over credentials or money, a considerable amount of them arose from data breaches.

Data breaches are one of the most common forms of cybercrime, and some experts even estimate that there is a new victim every 2 seconds (forbes.com). Although, believe it or not, they are not impossible to avoid.

So how can you protect yourself from data breaches? 

Most people wait until it is too late. You should adopt a security plan and stick to it.

If you have data stored online that you can’t risk losing, you should be backing it up; this could be storing it on an external hard drive or the cloud. The more backups, the better.

Optimise two-factor authentication (2FA), and use it! It is an easy and great way to block unwanted visitors from using your data on any services which have 2FA enabled.

Using a different password for every account you have (even a subtle change) stops the hackers gaining access with the single password and email address.

If you struggle to keep track we would suggest a password management system such as Lastpass or 1Password.

Most websites ask for a username and a password, which means it is effortless to access your account if you have a password that is easy to guess. Or following a data breach, these simple passwords can be easier to break once the bad guys get their hands on them. (when a breach takes place the passwords are often encrypted, these need to be decrypted before they can be used)

What happens if your data is breached?

What if the dreaded happens? Don’t panic. First of all, you want to figure out what accounts have been targeted and change those passwords. You should quadruple check your bank accounts and see if anything looks a little odd.

Please don’t go crazy trying to manage everyone alone. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we can help you with your cyber security.

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