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No One Is Safe From the Data Breach Epidemic

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Lately, there have been many stories of computers being hacked into and information stolen.  Data breaches affect individuals, as well as large and small organizations.  No one is safe from the Data Breach Epidemic.

What is a data breach?

A data breach is an event that facilitates unauthorized access to computer applications, data, devices, or networks.  It is usually the result of an intruder bypassing security mechanisms.  

How do data breaches happen?

A data breach might be something as simple as an employee searching a forbidden website.  Although it may not seem criminal, these inadvertent instances open the door for data breaches that can become highly destructive to a company financially.

Other times, it could be cyber-crooks transmitting malicious emails that are opened by unsuspecting persons.  These emails contain software that grants these crooks access to the mainframe system so that they can steal whatever they want.

It is important for employees to ensure that the identities of people with whom they are corresponding via email have been verified, and Nuwber can help with that. If it has been proven that a person is misrepresenting themself then it is essential to mark their messages as spam and block future messages from them.

Bring Your Own Device protocols to prohibit the use of personal devices to log into the company’s computer are also a great way to help protect against data breaches at work.  This is beneficial because as your device is most likely unencrypted, if you use it to log into the company’s computer, you open a way for cybercrooks to steal your login information to get into the company’s mainframe and create problems.

Individuals are also at risk

You might believe that it is only large companies that are at risk from cyber attacks, but it is noteworthy that individuals are at equal risk.  Therefore caution is imperative.  

How do you protect yourself?

Use strong passwords

Strong passwords must be created to protect your data.  While your password must be memorable for you, it must also be difficult for anyone else to guess.  GCFGlobal recommends that you never use personal information that can easily be retrieved, but rather use passwords longer than six characters that incorporate upper and lowercase letters together with numbers and symbols.  

Never use the same password on multiple accounts

Kaspersky suggests that the same password must never be used for multiple accounts; it increases the vulnerability of your other accounts once discovered.  Additionally, instead of leaving accounts dormant, you should consider closing them.  Leaving an account that you do not use open increases your vulnerability to a data breach because you might never notice unusual activity if you never use the account.  Dormant accounts could also make your other accounts easy targets.

Change passwords regularly

Passwords should also be changed regularly as it has been reported that data breaches occur over extended periods and many remain unreported up to years after the breach.  Regularly changing passwords does not eliminate the risk but reduces it greatly. 

Wipeout devices before discarding

If you plan to throw out an old computer, you need to ensure that the hard drive is properly wiped out first.  Do not just delete the files; wipe them out completely.

Keep software updated

Keeping your software updated will also help protect your data because it eliminates the weaknesses that were present in the older software versions and in effect will strengthen your system.  

Let antivirus scans help you

Using antivirus scans will remove viruses from your device so consider installing antivirus software on each of your devices.  Backing up your data on external drives will be more efficient at keeping hackers away compared to using cloud storage.

Beware of malicious emails

Because many breaches occur as a result of persons inadvertently opening malicious emails, you need to be very careful where you click.  Even though the emails appear to be from your contacts, if they contain links, you need to determine whether they are genuine before you open them and always use antivirus software on attachments.

Be careful with credit card information

Online shopping, although common, is a prime concern.  Escape Artist Editors recommend the use of e-wallets or virtual debit cards as opposed to credit cards.  However, if credit cards are used, it is very important to ensure that you only use websites that are secure.  That is, URLs with “HTTPS” rather than just “HTTP”.

Virtual Private Networks help

Another suggestion is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection while using public Wi-Fi.  A VPN provides a secure connection that is guaranteed to keep your information safe as it keeps hackers out.  While there are good free VPNs available, paying for one will provide a stronger bandwidth with no ads. 

What should you do if you are hacked?

Acting quickly is your best bet, so ensure that you regularly monitor your accounts so that you become aware of unfamiliar activity early enough to take swift action.  If you notice unfamiliar activity on an account, Kaspersky recommends that you immediately change your password together with all security questions and answers and PIN codes associated with that account. 

If you are the victim of stolen credit card information then you will need to contact the issuer at once to inform them of the unauthorized activity so that they are able to cancel your card and instantly issue a replacement.

It will also be helpful to register a fraud alert on your credit report so that potential lenders and creditors are aware that you may have been a victim of fraud. 


No one will ever be totally safe from a data breach, however, taking all of the aforementioned steps can prove very helpful to protect yourself against it.