Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably realised that in 2017, hacking and data leaks have become almost daily occurrences. Why should this concern you, though? Well, data leaks lead to identity theft, which can lead to having your credit and reputation destroyed, as well as leave your bank account empty. And since most of the companies you rely on every day are adapting their businesses to depend on computers and the Internet, the risk of being compromised has risen to significant levels. In the US alone, 15.4 million people became victimsof identity theft in 2016 – more than 16% compared to the previous year.What’s alarming is that these data breaches occur on an almost daily basis. Institutions that hold your personal data such as governments, banks, and everyday companies from small to large have become targets for hackers who want your data. And if you’re thinking that they are just stealing stuff like credit card numbers, there’s much more to it than that. Here are some examples of other sensitive data that are frequently stolen and leaked publicly:
- Social security numbers
- Name and email addresses
- Government ID information
- Phone and contact numbers
In one of the most recent data exposures this week involved the Republican National Council (RNC). Hackers breached their databases which resulted in the largest leak of US voter data ever. The data that was stolen reveals that the RNC collected data from Americans, which helped them score voting preferences in line with Trump’s recent presidential campaign.
How massive was it?
Well, it exposed the personal information of over 61% of the entire US population. You could be at risk if you are a US voter.
How the heck do they even obtain this data?
Have you ever seen one of those emails that looks completely legitimate, from one of your trusted service providers, but actually isn’t? Chances are, if you gave them your personal information, you’ve been victimized by phishing. Another way of obtaining sensitive data digitally is by deploying malware. Once you download this type of malicious software onto your PC or mobile device, you open the gateway for them to monitor everything that you do – from entering your email address and password on Facebook, down to your text messages to your family members. And as you can tell, data breaches provide a whole array of privacy issues even for the casual personal consumer.
4 Risks of Having Your Personal Information Stolen
1. Hackers could steal your identity and pretend to be you.
Hackers can use your personal data to impersonate you and victimize your friends, your family, your bank, your phone company, or anyone!
Take the case of Liezyl Margallo – a Filipino accomplice involved in the horrific paedophilia-child abuse-human trafficking case of Peter Scully. She went on disguising herself with another identity in order to evade the authorities for more than a year.
2. You could lose your hard-earned money.
Malicious methods such as phishing can leave your financial assets vulnerable to hackers. Criminals with your information could call your bank and by impersonating you, request a funds withdrawal. Or they could sell your credit card information over the dark webto other identity thieves.
3. Your credit score could be destroyed.
You have spent years working hard and building your credit score, which allows you to buy cars, take out a home loan, get a job, or any number of other important things. Thieves can steal your personal data and use it to start taking out loans on your behalf, thus destroying your credit, and causing creditors to start chasing you. Of course, this can be appealed and due investigation will take place, but who wants all the fuss?
4. Spam, spam, and more spam.
Those pesky emails with useless junk content? With your personal data available to anyone, you can expect to receive WAY more than before.
How to Protect Yourself
Keep your physical documents and data safe and secure.
Back to basics, be vigilant in handling physical objects with sensitive information. For example, by keeping your social security card in a much safer location other than your purse, you lessen the risk of having your personal information stolen. Additionally, be careful about who you give your personal data to. Does that company really need your social security number? It never hurts to ask if you can leave it blank.
Be vigilant on social media.
Yes, social media is a very good avenue to keep you up-to-date with what’s going on in the lives of your friends and family. However, it also keeps fraudulent and malicious individuals up-to-date with you as well. As Javelin suggests, review your social media security settings to limit your privacy and the information that you share with the public audience.
Use additional layers of security such as two-factor authentication and password managers.
On top of generating high-complexity passwords, always remember to enable two-factor authentication whenever available. This significantly protects you from identity theft since it requires verification from multiple sources. Another way to efficiently and safely store multiple passwords for different sites is by using a password manager such as Passpack. This prevents you from repeating the same password across multiple accounts.
If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
You go online and you see an ad or a site that’s simply too irresistible to resist. Tempted to click it? Of course. Human beings are made to be attracted by incentives. However, if you want to protect yourself from being compromised, follow your gut. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
Use a service that notifies you when your personal data has been compromised.
There are a lot of security solutions offering protection such as firewalls and antivirus programs, but these programs won’t notify you when your personal data has been stolen and made available on the black market. We developed LoginAlarmto do just this. If you are someone who values your security, privacy, and personal information, you should use a service like LoginAlarm to notify you when you’re at risk. What we offer is a monitoring service that notifies you instantly whenever we discover that hackers have obtained your personal information and posted it on the dark web or somewhere publicly where anyone can see it. . When your personal data or password has been found to be involved in a data breach, we will inform you by sending you a text message (SMS) and suggesting a course of action.
Try a free scan! Check to see if your data has been stolen and exposed now.