Data breaches have become a terrifying term in this age. Its rate increases daily as cybercriminals intend to get illegal access to sensitive information and employ numerous strategies to get them. This development has seen many severe cases – especially the recent famous Experian data breach.
Wikipedia confirms that in the first half of 2018 alone, about 4.5 billion records were exposed due to data breaches. The following year, 2.7 billion records were posted on the website for sale. This consisted of 774 million unique email addresses and 21 million unique passwords.
One of the most terrifying data breach cases in recent times is the Experian security breach which, according to studies, exposed 24 million South Africans’ details and 793,000 business entities to a suspected fraudster.
The company itself suffered extra loss from the Experian breach settlement, which aimed at compensating several customers.
The story of the Experian data breach teaches us a grave lesson, makes us wonder if we’re safe and what we need to do to protect our data. Well, there is a lot to that, which we’ll review shortly.
What Is A Data Breach?
Data breaches refer to cyber-attacks targeted at sensitive information. It’s done by hackers capitalizing on flaws found in a system. Hackers can exploit the following essential data: credit card info, social security numbers, social media passwords, etc.
Data breaches are terrifying because hackers can do many things with the information obtained—what they can do ranges from the illegitimate withdrawal of large sums of money to impersonation.
How Data Breaches Occur
Whenever we hear that the information we keep private and encrypted has been leaked even when we trusted it with the safest virtual hands, we tend to get scared. The Experian data breach can terrify us even more.
The questions that come to mind are “how was this possible? How can my data be breached?”. There are several answers to this question, and below are three top reasons:
1. Outdated Security Protocols
There are several changes to security protocols during a specific period. These protocols are often updated just before the integrity of the current system becomes unreliable. When a company doesn’t keep up with the frequent security protocol updates, they become prone to cyber-attacks.
2. Weak Passwords & Verification Problems
Sometimes, while waiting for verification codes, the connection to the servers becomes insecure. Clever hackers can capitalize on this and breach the connection to access your account and retrieve your details.
Also, some people set weak passwords which can be easily guessed or generated by advanced software hackers.
3. Malware On Company Servers
One of the most dangerous means that data breaches can occur is via malware. If malicious individuals can plant certain malware in the servers of companies that keep people’s data, an invasion of clients’ private data is highly likely.
By sending emails containing malware, some hackers have been able to trick companies into installing malicious software into their systems.
What To Do When Your Data Gets Leaked
In 2021, the Experian data breach – even after a year – still lingers fresh on our memory. It’s caused customers to have a lack of trust in security companies.
Thankfully, there are several ways we can contribute to keeping our data safe or preventing further damage to our privacy when there’s been a breach. Some of them include:
1. Being Vigilant
One of the best things you can do is to pay attention to your notifications. Companies usually notify their clients once their privacy becomes threatened. They typically suggest ways of protecting their data, and you should consider the options they give.
It would be best if you also were keen to identify any mail that comes into your inbox, especially those you haven’t gotten before, such as alerts from the Internal Revenue Service concerning taxes and other bills from sources you don’t know. Hopefully, you’ll be able to trace them.
2. Instating A Fraud Alert
Another means of protecting your data is by initiating a fraud alert. Fraud alerts help to inform lenders that your data has become unsafe because of a breach of security. It’ll help you avoid loss by warning them not to respond to requests for loans from your account because they may not be from you.
This inclusion will make them contact you each time they receive such requests to know whether it’s from you or not. You can ask your credit company to add a fraud alert to your credit report.
3. Keeping Tabs On Your Bank Accounts
It would help if you regularly kept tabs on your bank accounts, especially those linked to your credit company. Periodically check your account balance to know if any deductions have been made.
If possible, you can opt-in for notifications whenever changes occur on your account.
4. Checking Your Credit Reports
As a victim of a recent data breach, what you should do is check your credit reports regularly, as often as once every month. Thankfully, some companies offer a free credit report check at least once every 30 days.
5. Securing Your Credit File By Locking It
You can choose to lock your credit file to avoid further losses. When you freeze or lock your credit report, potential lenders will not be able to access it. The only way Anyone only can then check your credit report is by unlocking it. So, if you intend to obtain loans soon, you should consider locking them later.
Also, if you receive an alert that there has been a data breach from your credit company. Please change your password to a stronger one. Hopefully, the hackers may not have tried to access your account with the data they obtained.
Data breaches can be quite frightening, given that we live in a digital age where virtually everything about our lives is on the internet. The fact that a company as prestigious as Experian experienced significant data breaches in 2012, 2013, and 2015 should be scary enough.
As terrifying as breaches can be, you can save yourself from potential harm. With the more recent Experian data breach back in 2020, however, it’s clear that we must do everything we can to ensure our safety and privacy. Ways of doing this include providing vigilance and fraud alerts and locking your account when need be.
Also, to ensure even better safety, we must ensure to work with a trusted partner that can secure our business no matter the size. Triadanet offers this to give you peace of mind so you can focus more on running your business.