Author: Craig Nelson
You have probably heard about data breaches. If not, you will, soon. Data breaches are security problems we hear about often. They strike every sector, segment, and country.
Victim entities can be anything from tiny, independent firms to multinationals. If you have been involved in a data breach you must be wondering what to do. Well, you’re not alone.
In this article, I will educate you on how to find out if your information was exposed in a data breach and what you can do to protect yourself from identity theft.
Take a Quick Look at Your Digital Footprint
The first step is to head over to https://www.haveibeenpwned.com/. This is a website that allows you to enter your email address or browse through a list of popular websites and services that have been compromised in the past.
If your information is found on the list, don’t panic! There are a few things you can do to protect yourself, such as changing your password and being vigilant about monitoring your credit information. You can also sign up for a free credit monitoring service.
If your information is not found on the list, that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods just yet. It’s still important to be vigilant about safeguarding your personal information and monitoring your credit score and credit reports.
If you are using a password manager like Keeper, 1Password, or Dashlane, it might have breach-monitoring services that will notify you if your credentials are revealed in a security flaw.
As identity theft is a serious crime that can negatively affect your credit reports and scores, credit monitoring services like Experian and LifeLock are starting to incorporate data breach monitoring. You might not be informed of any changes, though, unless you have alerts turned on, so make sure you are logged in.
What Do You Do if Your Info Has Been Involved in a Data Breach?
Freeze your credit
If you find out that your personal information has been compromised in a data breach, the first thing you should do is freeze your credit. This will stop anyone from opening new accounts in your name. You can also put a fraud alert on your credit file. This will make it harder for someone to get credit in your name.
Change your passwords
You should also change your passwords for any account that was affected by the breach. Be sure to use strong passwords that are different for each account. You can also use a password manager to help keep track of all your passwords.
Sign up for two-factor authentication
Whenever possible, enroll in two-factor authentication (2FA, commonly known as “two-step verification”) in addition to updating your passwords. Many sites, including Gmail and Facebook, now provide this extra degree of protection for account login attempts. To activate your online account with two-factor verification, you will need to input an extra form of identity, such as a code sent to your phone.
This indicates that even if hackers manage to get their hands on your email address and password, they won’t be able to access your account without the additional identity-verification step.
Keep an eye on your accounts and credit reports
You should monitor your credit report for any signs of identity theft. You can get a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year.
Protecting Your Accounts and Personal Information
Your best bet for protecting your accounts and personal information is to use a robust password manager. A password manager creates and saves strong, unique passwords for all of your online accounts. If one of your passwords is ever compromised, the others are still safe.
In addition to using a password manager, you should also create unique account information for each site. That means different email addresses, usernames, and passwords. If you have trouble remembering all of those different login credentials, you can use a password manager to keep track of them for you.
A data breach can be frightening, and in the worst situation, it could result in fraudulent activity and financial difficulties. But you may avoid the dangers and inconveniences of a data breach if you understand what to anticipate, take a few easy precautions, and remain attentive.