Everything You Need To Know About Data Breaches
It’s undeniable that technology makes everyone’s life easier. From communicating with friends and relatives to accomplishing tasks – it has, indeed, gone a long way to make things smoother and lighter for online users.
Anyone utilizing the world wide web should bear in mind though, that all the activities they do online leaves a digital footprint. Unfortunately, when one’s digital footprint is ignored, it can lead back to you and all of the personal information you uploaded, posted, or made available online. The web is undoubtedly an amazing tool, probably one of the best inventions and creations of all time. However, as cliche as it may sound, with great power comes great responsibility.
What Is A Data Breach?
Data is a broad term that could pertain to symbols, characters, numbers, or facts. Personal data, in particular, refers to any information or details of an individual. For most sites or software to run as programmed, it’s unavoidable to provide personal data to companies online. Unfortunately, not all companies secure their database properly. This data is often unintentionally and intentionally obtained and released to other parties, compromising the businesses and online customers/users. This is referred to as a data breach.
A data Breach is an incident where personal or sensitive information is leaked or shared without proper authorization from the owner. This pertains to the unauthorized access and of an individual’s data or an organization’s database.
Types of Data Breaches
There are various ways in how personal data or sensitive information are illegally acquired such as social engineering, phishing, and e-skimming.
To simply put it, social engineering is a form of manipulation. Online criminals deceive users into sharing their personal data which will then be used for fraudulent activities. The scariest part is that they use psychological or persuasive techniques to appeal to people’s emotions.
Though a more common method to steal data, phishing is easier to obtain information compared to social engineering. Cyber criminals use links, opt-in forms, file attachments, and many more methods to phish one’s personal information.
Electronic skimming or e-skimming utilize malicious codes. These codes are planted on an e-commerce checkout or card payment processing page to capture the sensitive information of the payment method such as card number, card expiry, and CCV.
The above data breach methods and others can result in:
- Identity Theft
- Fraudulent Bank and Card Transactions
- Compromised Social Media and Online Accounts
- Monetary Losses
- Damaged Personal and/or Business Reputation
Data Breach Incidents
Over the years, data breach incidents have been on the rise, especially with the increased use of technology, social media, and online accounts. Here are some of the biggest data and security breaches recorded in history.
In the 2015 Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Scandal, the data of 87 million Facebook users have been allegedly stolen and sold to third-party vendors. Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, personally faced and addressed all allegations. In one of his interviews he said, “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you.” Even before this scandal, several critics have been questioning some features of the app, as well as the data security it can guarantee its users.
Yahoo has had 2 incidents of data breaches,; In 2013, 3 billion customer accounts were breached and in 2016, 500 million customer accounts were hacked. Though no legal proofs were acquired and presented, the company believes this attack was performed by a “state-sponsored actor”. Yahoo said in a statement, “The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers”.
In March 2018, Under Armour discovered unauthorized data access, exposing 150 million MyFitnessPal accounts. Though it’s still unclear how the incident specifically occurred, the company sent out email notifications to compromised users. The sports giant stated, “The company quickly took steps to determine the nature and scope of the issue and to alert the MyFitnessPal community of the incident”
In June 2017, sensitive information of over 143 million people stored on Equifax’s servers such as social security numbers, driver’s license information, birth dates, home addresses, and credit card numbers were stolen. The hack resulted in a 19% fall of the company’s shares in after-market trading. “This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes,” said Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Richard F. Smith.
Ways To Protect Your Data From Breaches
Though there are several laws governing data privacy and mandating data security, it’s best to start the protection ourselves. After all, it’s our personal information that’s at stake.
Create Strong Passwords
It’s highly recommended to use strong passwords that are at least 16 characters long, consisting of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. As much as possible, use a unique password for each of the online accounts or applications you use. On top of avoiding weak passwords, never share your login credentials with anyone.
Trustworthy Links and Apps
Links from strangers and unknown pages or applications are most likely phishing links. Also, be extremely selective with the apps you download. Be mindful of indications of malicious links and apps such as misspelling and exaggeration.
Device Protection Tools
You may as well utilize tools specifically programmed to protect your device from online threats such as antivirus software, password manager, firewall, or a data backup & recovery software.
To keep your browsing data secure, you can use VPN, private or incognito browser, private search engine, and ad blocker plugins. You can also disable location details on your device and tracking on social media sites.
Only Use Secure and Private Wi-Fi Connection
One of the ways your data can be exposed is by using public Wi-Fi connections. To protect your device use and data, only use secure and private Wi-Fi connections. This can be done by using your own at-home network or using a mobile hotspot. Make sure the network is updated and has a strong password.
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