Getting hacked is something we all fear. Behind our glamourous public profile, we all deep down dread falling victim to a cyberattack. If you are reading this, it is probably because you are concerned about online security or you have been a target to a hack.
With massive data breaches breaking the news almost every other day, it’s imperative that you take the security of your online accounts in your hands before your data is hacked. Corporations and small businesses that deal with confidential data like your credit card details are highly vulnerable.
Let this be a clear reminder that even the biggest companies such as Yahoo, Marriott hotels, Adult Friend Finder, Equifax, Target, LinkedIn and dozens of others have suffered data breaches that compromised hundreds of millions of accounts and payment-card numbers. This clearly shows that it’s crucial to take steps ensuring individual privacy rather than relying on others.
This is likely one of the biggest hacks on iPhones ever.
A collection of critical vulnerabilities working together that could hit anyone just by visiting the website was going on for two years, and could steal location data, photos, messages: https://t.co/kggeMaHAaP
— alfred 🆖 (@alfredwkng) August 30, 2019
If you’re among the millions of consumers whose sensitive information may have been exposed in a data breach, here’s what to do to minimize your chances of becoming the victim of identity theft or credit-card fraud:
Figure out what data was hacked
Begin by discovering the type of data that’s been hacked and most importantly, where did it end up?
Ask yourself, is it because of a poor password and no two-step authentication? Get to know more about the leak such as whether any personal information like date of birth, your home address, phone number, or even answers to your security questions are now vulnerable?
The list of asking questions doesn’t end there. Be vocal and demand answers to whether your payment details or social security number are also out in the open. The best way to go about it is to:
- Take a pen and paper
- Begin contacting the company, press and reading up resources online
- Record your findings and compare any contradictory statements
Data is the new return on investment which is why it’s heavily targeted by malicious actors from around the globe. Here are the steps you should take depending on how and what type of data got leaked.
Learn about Identity Theft and how to protect yourself.
For online credentials
Studies show that each one of us has nearly 33 online accounts. Managing these accounts is one thing, but imagine if one of them gets hacked, it could be devastating. Not to forget that our accounts are linked with each other, which means that if one gets hacked, the rest will follow.
If it’s been established that your email, username, password, date of birth, address, or any other information has been leaked, you need to take the following steps:
- Instantly change your account password. This time, choose an alphanumeric password, which makes it hard to hack.
- Head over to Have I Been Pwned and see whether you’ve been a victim to any data breaches. Truth be told, companies take months and at times years to admit a hack and go public about their shortcomings, so you might want to keep visiting this site often.
- If you’ve linked an account with another account (for example, linking Facebook with SoundCloud, it’s best to change the accounts of other platforms as well.
- Use a multi-factor authentication such as 2-factor-authentication or Google authenticator. This is an added security measure that uses a password or PIN to gain you access to your account even when you’ve entered its password.
- Keep yourself updated regarded security trends and data breaches. By having sound knowledge of what’s happening in the world, you’ll be able to take prompt steps in case a company announces they’ve been hacked. Time is of the essence in these situations, and the sooner you take security measures, the greater the chances of protecting your data.
Not to forget that unsecured websites and public Wi-Fi networks pose the highest risk. Hackers and alike eagerly target Wi-Fi networks to tap on your internet activities and steal your credentials. It’s important to use a VPN network to secure your online traffic against cybercriminals.
Want to know how to kick people off your Wi-Fi network?
For healthcare data
Healthcare data is sensitive in nature and extremely confidential. If you’ve recently discovered that your healthcare information has been made public, it’s best to inform your health insurer immediately.
By alerting your insurer, you’re raising a flag and asking them to be observant of any suspicious activity that is apart from the usual. The company will do a thorough check before releasing any payments.
For additional transparency, keep monitoring your health-related payments and maintain a right eye for any amount that does not have your name on it.
For driver’s license
Driver licenses are commonly hacked as they’re an identity thief’s paradise. With that one card, the hacker gets fully aware of your personal information such as your date of birth, home address, and all the way to your height, eye color, and even your signature.
Here are the steps to protect yourself once your driving license has been compromised. Be sure to:
- Instantly notify the police and record an official statement.
- Get in touch with DMV, and they’ll guide you on the process of replacing your license, and what the temporary solution till you get your license back.
- Your driver’s license number contains all your private details, so it’s best that you inform your credit company and tell them to freeze your credit.
Once you’ve informed the relevant authorities, you should take a follow-up after a few days so that you’re always on top of the case.
For banking details
If your banking details have been hacked, you should treat this as a category five hurricane. Here are the steps you need to take urgently:
- Call your bank and immediately put a freeze to your credit/debit cards. It’s best to request the bank to issue you a new card and close the account that’s affected.
- Go through your recent credit card statements for any suspicious activity.
- Connect to the credit bureau and set up a fraud alert. Once the fraud alert is in place, you’ll be notified in case anyone tries to use your credit/debit card.
- Ask your credit company to issue a credit report. See if someone is misusing your card by opening accounts under your name.
Last but not the least, keep yourself updated regarding cybersecurity happenings. With scammers always looking for a target, only trust those who call from a legitimate entity and don’t trust anyone with your personal details. Make sure not to give information on suspicious emails and phone calls.
With increasing cyberattacks, it’s important to learn who’s behind all this menace. Learn about security loopholes.
For social security number
Social security number is your nine-digit most confidential identification that can be used to track your footprints. For your social security number, passport and government ID, here’s what you should do:
- As with any hack, the first step is to put out a fraud alert. Immediately report it to your local police, the Internal Revenue Service, National Credit Reporting Agency, Social Security Administration, or any other similar organization.
- You’ll be asked to verify your identity. Get an official document made to prove who you say you are.
- Contact your credit agency to get your credit reports. See if your information has been misused.
Now that you’ve done everything possible by notifying the authorities and getting things in order, it’s time you reflect on your data security for real. Ensuring your data is secure against cybercriminals can be a challenge on its own. You should employ encryption to safeguard your online private information against malicious actors.
It could take months and even years to fully recover from a data breach, and the trauma might stay with you forever. Apart from staying vigilant, make a habit of going through your credit statements and flagging any suspicious activity. And oh, don’t share your private information online unless you’re secured with a VPN!