Before you read further, do this. Check if your information has been compromised. Firefox Monitor tells you the sites that have been breached and your data has been exposed. https://monitor.firefox.com/
What is a data breach?
Whenever you sign up for a web-based service you are asked to enter your name and other details and an online account created. This data is stored in the online databases managed by the service. Some unscrupulous companies sell your data to aggressors who in turn sell it further or use it for various purposes.
While you may not mind your data available to scores of digital marketeers, what is of grave concern is that the password you use to access the site may also have been compromised. And since we do use the same email and password for many other sites, suddenly you are no longer safe. The hackers can now sell your data to others who may use it to login surreptitiously to popular sites and get further details about you and build a profile that could eventually lead to major breaches and access to more critical sites such as your bank.
How to prevent
Prevention is better than cure and a few simple habits may help safeguard your data.
- Privacy settings: Spend a little time understanding the privacy setting options available in the apps you use and try to be selective about what you do want to be in the public domain. Facebook, LinkedIn, and What’s App do offer some settings that can help. But the most important thing is not to share too much and give only as little or mandatory.
- Passwords: Common sense dictates that you have a different set of passwords based on the critical nature of the sites and the transactions. Anything that has to do with banking and money must be guarded with the most difficult of passwords. Another good habit is to constantly change your password. Keep a set of passwords that can be stored in your memory easily and yet are hard to figure out even by people who know you pretty well.
What action to take
When you hear about data breaches or find out that your information may be comprised you are advised to follow these suggestions.
- Change your password: Change the password for that particular site immediately.
- Change other sites too: Also change the password of all the sites that you have used the same username and password as most likely it will be attempted by the hacker
- Financial Data: In case the site which has been breached also has your credit card information, then immediately inform your bank and possibly have your credit card charged. At the least monitor your credit card statements to spot a charge you did not make.
- Online Vault: It might be a good idea to use an online vault for protecting your passwords. These sites have a higher security wall and encryption to ensure the safety of your data. They also help to generate a strong password and have automatic log-in. Such sites also help keep a list of all the sites that you have an account with, so when it comes to changing passwords this task can be done more smoothly. I use https://keepersecurity.com