Data Breaches Aren’t Going Away: What You Need to Know
Let’s play a game: Facebook, Google+, Quora, MyFitnessPal, British Airways, Ticketmaster, Marriott… what do all of these names have in common? Two words – data breaches. These are just a handful of companies that had to notify their customers that their data may have been compromised and personal information may have been affected in 2018.
It seems like every few weeks we hear of a well-known company announcing a breach of data in their system, which can cause us to frantically probe through hundreds of old emails to determine if we have a dormant account lying around that we may or may not have created with them in the past; even if you do have an account that you haven’t used in years, chances are you probably had to supply personal information during the initial sign up, and, if you never deactivated the account, consider yourself a potential part of the victim pool.
So, what exactly is a data breach? According to Trend Micro, a data breach is an incident where information is stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or authorization of the system’s owner. A data breach differs from data “exposures”, which happen when information that should have been secure was accessible, but was not necessarily hacked or stolen. The targets of these breaches are usually either:
- Institutions that people choose to entrust with their data (think banks or retailers), and,
- Organizations that acquired user data secondarily (entities like credit bureaus or marketing firms).
Data of interest to phishers and hackers usually involves sensitive, proprietary, or confidential information such as credit card numbers, customer data, and/or information linked to your financial accounts. Certain types of data are more favorable to exploit than others, such as financial information (quantitative material like credit card or routing numbers) or data utilized to commit identity theft, which can yield detrimental and long-lasting consequences.
With access to this data, these hackers – thieves – can drain you of your money, wreck your credit, or open digital accounts in your name if they successfully breach your data. This is why we at Yeske Buie take our commitment to protecting confidential data very seriously. Along with our in-house security experts, cybersecurity vendor, regular trainings, and encrypted servers, we use precautionary measures including anti-keylogging software, which immobilizes hidden keystroke logger software that could have been downloaded onto a computer. Additionally, we will never relay any sensitive material through online communication platforms, and require identity verification before sharing personal information over the phone. We’ve also partnered with IdentityForce to provide discounts on memberships which provide access to ongoing credit and banking monitoring, rapid alerts, and recovery services to help protect against identity theft.
So, what can you do to avoid being a victim of a data breach? Long story short, there is no end-all-be-all answer. As technology advances and the transition to digital platforms becomes more and more apparent, hackers and data breaches are universally inevitable – it comes with the territory of being connected with technology. Nevertheless, it is critical to be informed, practice healthy technology habits, and have sufficient protection measures in place to help minimize the effects of a breach.
Below are a few resources to help you stay informed and practice safe technology habits:
- Scam News Summary from FightingIdentityCrimes.com
- Tips to Thwart Tax Thieves
- The Ins and Outs of Identity Theft
- Protecting Your Digital Identity
- Don’t Fall for The Imposter
- The 411 on 2FA
- Healthy Technology Habits