The World Wide Web (WWW) is like a wormhole. It consists of virtual wire-like connections linking one piece data to another, leading one page to another. It’s like an endless interrelated loop. In the same way that you can get access to all the information you need from the internet, it’s highly unlikely to keep your details personal and confidential.
With the several online platforms and various applications we utilize, it’s almost impossible not to have any of our personal information publicly viewable. Since that’s a fact we cannot merely change, protect your details through the steps we’ll be sharing with you in this article.
Data Breach Scenarios and Consequences
Data is basically information. It could be in the form of numbers, letters, symbols, characters, or codes. One type of data, which is a favorite target of cybercriminals, is personal and sensitive data. This pertains to any details that could lead to a certain individual such as, but not limited to, names, addresses, contact numbers, dates of birth, and social security numbers. These data are meant to be kept private or secured. Any unauthorized access or misuse of another person’s data is referred to as a data breach.
As to how the Department of Homeland Security describes it, “a data breach includes any situation in which a person, organization, or agency gains unauthorized or illegal access to personal, sensitive, or confidential information.”
These breaches could negatively impact an individual or a corporation. It can result in financial losses, legal ramifications, identity theft, credibility ruin, and reputation destruction.
Below are the most common methods or scenarios of how data can be breached.
Loss or Theft
It appears that 41% of data breaches on companies are due to lost or stolen devices. Unfortunately, companies mostly invest in computer firewalls or database security software. They tend to overlook the risk of exposing confidential information stored on their employees’ company-issued devices such as laptops, cellular phones, and compact discs or thumb drives.
Hacks or Malware
Malware, a short term for malicious software, is specifically programmed to exploit, damage, and disable networks, systems, or devices. The most common types of malware are viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware, adware, and Trojan Horses.
Hacks are the attempts that specifically target individuals or corporations to steal information that hackers think is valuable or can be used to their advantage. The most common types of hacks are phishing emails or texts, fake websites or applications, and conducting fake surveys or contests.
E-skimming is one of the newest cybersecurity threats to watch out for. This is like the virtual or electronic version of credit card skimming. Instead of a physical device, predators put malicious codes on payment processing pages to capture vital card and consumer information.
Insider Leak or Unintended Disclosure
75%-78% of IT experts think that employees put company data at risk, intentionally or unintentionally. While in most cases, employees commit honest mistakes like clicking on a phishing email or malware, there are scenarios where employees consciously steal data and give or sell it to third-party vendors.
Social engineering is one of the most common methods where through some psychological tricks that fraudsters use, people tend to unintentionally disclose confidential or sensitive information. There are also data breach instances that have resulted from the naive sharing of credentials or devices.
Steps You Can Take To Prevent Data Breaches
While there are various data privacy and data security laws all across the globe, we should not be too lax or complacent about our confidential and sensitive information. We should work hand in hand with database experts and operating system specialists to constantly guarantee the security of our data.
Aside from existing laws, there are other protective tools and cybersecurity practices we can use to prevent data breaches.
To avoid other parties peeking at your information or your online activities, make sure to utilize private connections – private networks, Wi-Fi, browsers, search engines, and the like. Online hackers can easily access to your accounts that you open through public connections without you knowing.
Secure Applications and Software
Several applications and software are specifically programmed to protect networks or devices, as well as to secure data or information. Regardless of which electronic device you use, you need to ensure that it’s protected by trustworthy antivirus software. You can also download monitoring apps to efficiently and effectively track any suspicious activities or unauthorized accesses. Above all, ensure that your device’s operating system or software is up-to-date and that vulnerabilities are constantly patched.
Strong Passwords and 2-Factor Authentication
Passwords are our first line of defense from data breaches, keep yours strong and strictly confidential. Avoid generic or universal passcodes, be sure to use unique passwords for each of the accounts and devices you own. Make it at least 16 characters long, mix-up numbers and letters and symbols, and never reuse old ones.
Wipe Your Data and Deactivate It
When you change devices, make sure that you properly dispose of your old ones. Also applicable to lost or stolen gadgets, you need to physically or remotely wipe out all data. You may coordinate with your device or network provider if you’re not privy to how it’s done. Any unused accounts must be properly deactivated or closed.
As they say, prevention is always better than a cure. One can never be too careful in managing their personal data. Be skeptical of the apps you download, the sites you access, and the links you click. Avoid disclosing confidential information to anyone, and limit the personally identifiable information (PII) you post or lodge on your social media or online platform accounts.
Be proactive, be cautious. It’s your data, your duty.
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