Ever heard of a data breach?

If not, you are at the risk of being the next victim in line. Case in point is when a shopper uses his or her ATM card for shopping at their favorite supermarket. Later on, he realizes that more money was withdrawn from his account than expected.

This not only hurts the particular grocery store but him as a consumer as well. To cut the chase, a data breach is when a cybercriminal infiltrates information systems to extract valuable data.

Data breaches not only cause the loss of much money but can also cause an irreparable damage to your reputation.

You want to know more about the ins and outs of data breaching to avoid falling victim to their malicious antics.

Why the high incidences in data breaching?

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A large portion of our personal information is now on the internet. This only means one thing; An increase in digital data.

With the increase in digital data, criminals in the dark web are scouting for an opportunity to access and impersonate your personal information.

Today, virtually everything is done online. Gone are the days, when you could buy household items at the nearest local store. Thanks to the internet, e-commerce is a success the world over. You get to sample the best products and services in the market from the best of merchants while seated in your living room.

Amazon now ships items to most parts of the world.

Because of data breaches, past studies have given an estimated figure of $3.86 million as the figure that gets lost by companies globally.

As a matter of fact, most business companies and corporations are the most targeted because of the large data they handle.

To your surprise, companies with big brands and reputations have fallen victim to these fraudsters. Companies such as Reddit, Timehop and Macy’s have suffered serious data security breaches in the past.

What is the cause of data breaches?

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Given the substantial amounts of money cybercriminals make from data companies, data breaching is not an activity they would want to stop sooner.

What most hackers look for is information that can be personalized easily. This, they will do with the intention of stealing your money or selling your information to the dark web.

There are numerous ways hackers could infiltrate companies and your personal information. Interestingly, these attacks are not only targeted to a particular entity but could happen randomly and accidentally.

If your computer has an out-of-date OS or browser, you risk being a victim of data infiltration. An attacker could simply use the security leaks in your browser to access important information found on your computer. Almost always, they will use malware to expose your data.

One other common tactic used by attackers is the use of phishing emails. Phishing emails lead users into revealing their personal credentials such as usernames and passwords. Attackers have a penchant for introducing malware into your computer using email attachments from unfamiliar sources.

You want to be cautious the next time you are opening email attachments.

Phishing is also used by hackers to direct users to insecure sites. These sites trick users into logging into them with their personal eventually falling victim to hackers.

Whether it is a password to your online account, credit card or email, you want to avoid the use of weak passwords. They put you at risk of a data breach as cybercriminals could easily guess and crack on them.

Avoid using passwords with only whole words or numerals. Most websites you register with will warn you against the use of a weak password. Don’t even think of using the same password twice as the same password could easily be trace by attackers over several sites.

Watch the web pages you visit to download stuff from the internet. Some of these web pages are compromised. Such vulnerabilities put you at a risk of downloading malware unknowingly from the internet. Once in your computer, this malware will take advantage of security leaks in your OS or browser.

How to protect yourself against data breaches

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Falling victim to a breach of your data is disgusting, to say the least. For example, if funds from your bank account get to be stolen as a result, the organization or company in charge of your data should be held liable.

Companies have a responsibility of protecting the data of their users against hackers. One way to do this would be to cushion their customers from harm by use of credit monitoring service.

In the event your data or funds are stolen, use the company responsible for your data as your first defense.

On the contrary, you are better of preventing yourself from the infiltration of your data by

  • Accessing secure websites only

Secure websites have their URLs starting with https. If not on a secure website, you want to keep safe by using a strong VPN service. Best VPN services come with various security protocols. Find out which protocol suits you best.

  • Track your bank and financial accounts

Given the inherent risk, your bank accounts face from data breaches, make sure to regularly track your accounts for any suspicious activity. Some banks come with insecurity alert features. You want to use them to get SMS or email alerts in case of a security breach.

  • Use strong passwords

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Easy passwords online are a no-brainer for hackers. The sooner you start using complex passwords the better your security will be online. You could download free password managers to help you in this quest.

  • Avoid the temptation to overshare on social media

Make it a rule of thumb: sensitive information should never be shared on social media. For example, oversharing your home location and places you frequently visit is never wise. It could put you at risk of an attack by criminals in the know about your whereabouts.

The bottom line

The importance of protecting your data can never be understated. With the growing presence of digital data, cybercriminals are also becoming more ingenious by the day. A Data breach is a real threat not only to businesses but individuals as well.  While online or when doing a financial transaction, keeping safe is not an option but a necessity.

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