Data breaches – What you need to know

What is a data breach?

A data breach is when sensitive, protected or confidential personal data is stolen or exposed by someone with unauthorised access. This could be through a hack, lost computer or hard drive or a malicious insider. Large companies or organisations are usually the victims of such attacks, since they hold lots of confidential data about customers.

How does it affect you?

Think about all the companies and businesses that hold information about you and if just one of these were to suffer a data breach your private data could be exposed. Hackers may not always be the fraudster trying to fish some money out of your accounts or steal your identity but they may well sell your data on numerous sites across the web. Personal data is the hot ticket among fraudsters and hackers, as it can allow them access to a person’s email, bank account information, address and date of birth, the list goes on. Bottom line; you and your financial security (and other confidential information) are at risk.

What can you do?

Although once you’ve given your details to a company there isn’t much you can do to prevent them being attacked, there are steps you can take to secure your online accounts:

  • Choose complex but memorable passwords – This type of password is harder for a fraudster to crack. Cyber Streetwise recommends creating a strong password by choosing three random words, including numbers and symbols. However, you’ll want to avoid anything that may be easy to guess or find on social media, such as pet names, place of birth or a partner’s name.
  • Never use the password more than once – Many people use the same password across numerous websites or accounts, as it’s easier to remember. But if a cyber-criminal were to get hold of the password for one account they may try to access others.
  • Monitor your credit report – Your credit report can often be the first place to spot a potential fraud or identity theft, as you have view of all your accounts and applications for credit made in your name.
  • Use two-factor authentication – For any sites that use two-factor authentication, make use of it. It strengthens your login security and requires two stages to confirm your identity. This could be through a unique code sent via text message every time you log in to your account.