Data breaches are getting quite common these days. Huge organizations like banks and e-commerce sites are frequent target of breaches. Even the best security measures fail when the human factor is involved. Employees or contractors are often the cause of most breaches. Sometimes it’s as simple as not encrypting a sensitive data file or storing data in a publicly accessible server without any password protection.
Responsible disclosure of breaches
In some countries, regulations dictate that an organization which has suffered a breach should inform affected individuals within a certain period of discovering the breach. Unfortunately, if the organization involved is not aware of any breaches, you could still be at risk.
Always assume your information has been compromised
It may be a cynical way to look at the world but it’s better to always assume the worst and prepare for it. Once you have prepared a set of actions to take in the case of a breach, you will not panic so much if it happens.
Monitor your accounts regularly
One of the most important things you can do is monitor your credit score as well as your credit card statements. Anything out of the ordinary can be a red flag that your data has been compromised. Changes in your credit score could mean that someone has stolen your identity and is trying to apply for a credit card or loan. Any unknown charge in your credit card statement should be clarified with the card issuer ASAP and if it turns out to be fraudulent, cancel the card immediately.
Report any banking or credit card fraud to a credit reporting agency
If you see any suspicious activities with your bank or credit card accounts, you need to close your bank account and cancel your card. You should also file a fraud report with one of the credit reporting agencies to implement a credit freeze. A credit freeze will prevent anyone from using your personal info to open a new line of credit.
Change logins and security questions
Once you have been notified of a breach in a particular website, you should change all of your logins on all online services. This includes security questions which you need to reset your passwords. Make sure every online service you use has a unique login. This helps to limit the damage any breach can cause.
It’s a sad fact of life that you will inevitably be a victim of a data breach. How you mitigate the risks is what will prevent you from suffering financial disasters due to the compromised data.