We didn’t think about how a data breach could affect us in the digital Stone Age. We just used our “state of the art” DOS systems and didn’t think about how it could affect us.
This isn’t true at all. Data breaches didn’t even exist until 2005, when a hack leaked 1.4 million credit card numbers at DSW Shoe Warehouse.
Before that, the only significant reports of large-scale data leaks were about targeted people or corporate espionage.
When there was once a significant data breach every few months, we didn’t pay much attention.
Our personal information is just the norm now.
So, Your Data Has Been “Breached,” but What Does This Mean for Your Online Privacy?
First, let’s see what hackers look for in the data they want to steal.
Hackers want data that they can use to make money somehow, so they want to get it. They have access to your bank account, social security number, address, and any other information that can be used to verify your identity or manipulate your online behavior.
As soon as hackers get their hands on this information, they can impersonate you online and even in person to get new loans, existing finances, tax refunds, and even medical information.
Sometimes, hackers will use your personal information to try to blackmail you or to get into and take over your devices (yikes).
Our data can’t be safe in real life if we can’t rely on banks or hospitals, or even the government to keep it that way. And it can take a long time and be very painful to get back on your feet, as evidenced by a mortgage scam in 2017 that cost a couple of $200,000.
The Bains were trying to make a real estate deal the right way. Instead of being happy for them, hackers had gotten hold of some of their personal information and sent them an email that looked like it came from their real estate agent. The email gave detailed instructions on how to wire a lot of money so that the purchase could go through.
When the couple read these instructions, they wired $200k to the hacker’s account.
When the hackers got hold of an email, they changed the instructions so they could make money from the transaction. As a result of this mess, the courts had a hard time deciding who was really at fault, which meant that any money they could get was long, if at all.
Every day, things like this happen. It could be a strange charge at a big box store 1000 miles away, a suspicious online purchase, or even a sizeable fraudulent purchase that only comes to light when the repo order finally reaches the scammed person.
More minor incidents where hackers get a small amount of data are often the source of more extensive phishing efforts, online and phone scams, ransomware efforts, and scams that target friends or family members.
In short, it’s essential to be proactive when you share any personal information over the internet. When it comes to privacy in the digital age, it should be a human right Because it’s also a shared duty.
Responding to a Data Breach
How do we find out if our digital privacy has been breached? In some cases, when a company learns that the data they were responsible for has been breached, they send emails, texts, or notifications in their apps to let people know that their data has been stolen.
The other way to find out about these breaches is to look for them on your own, which can happen much closer to home. Laptop, phone, or tablet: They could be stolen or lost. It would help if you kept them safe. Someone could steal your purse, get your banking information at the ATM or gas pump, or even break into your home.
Then, it’s important to report lost or stolen items right away to the police or store management and look at what information someone else now has.
Before you do anything else, cancel or pause all of your credit, bank, or key cards so that they don’t work. Financial institutions need to know that someone has stolen money as soon as possible. Make sure to change locks, access codes, passwords, and phone numbers when necessary.
For online personal data breaches, there are many ways you can start to protect yourself as soon as you know that your data has been stolen. These include things like:
- Attempt to obtain specifics on what data has been compromised (financial, personal, professional, etc.).
- Replace all passwords (password managers can be a huge help here).
- If the company that experienced the leak has not already reported the breach to authorities, do so.
- Where possible, enable two-factor authentication.
- Enroll in credit monitoring alerts.
- If necessary, cancel or suspend credit cards.
- If there are financial concerns, credit should be frozen.
- Notify anyone else in your immediate vicinity who may be affected.
- Sites such as https://haveibeenpwned.com/ can help you determine the status of your information.
- Additional steps you can take to protect yourself and others can be found at https://www.identitytheft.gov/.
Privacy and Security Tips for the Digital Age
It can happen to anyone who has shared something online. These things never happen to you. But there are some things you can do to protect your online identity.
- Begin by learning about the various online threats, such as phishing, ransomware, social media scams (no, we don’t want your “government grant”), and malware.
- Share personal information via email, text, or social media messaging only after verifying the sender and the purpose of the data.
- Never, ever click on suspicious email or SMS links.
- To keep your computer and devices safe, install anti-virus software.
- Make use of a strong password or an identity manager.
- Passwords should be changed every 4–6 weeks.
- When possible, use two-factor authentication.
- Keep an eye on your credit and online credentials regularly.
Keep up with the most recent online risks discussed in the news or by your bank, school, or company. This will help you stay safe. We wish that data breaches didn’t happen, but we can’t ignore the fact that they happen more and more often worldwide. Being proactive now can save you a lot of trouble in the future.