On average there are three data breaches a day, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. So, that means your personal information might be at risk.
If you’ve been notified you have been compromised in a data breach or suspect your personal information has been exposed, here are some concrete steps you can take to help protect your critical data.
Use Strong Secure Passwords
Weak passwords are one of the easiest ways for hackers to access your private accounts. If you’ve ever been tempted to use “password1” or “qwerty” as your password, you may as well be handing out your personal data in the street.
To create a strong password, try the following:
- Always try to create passwords that are 15 characters long or longer.
- Avoid common substitutions such as a “!” for a “1”.
- Use a mix of characters, numbers and upper and lower case letters.
- Instead of a password, use a passphrase made up of 5 unconnected words.
Monitor Your Bank and Other Financial Accounts
Keeping track of your financial accounts means you can react quickly to any intrusion or attempt to drain your funds. You can also keep an eye out for IRS deposits that might indicate that you’re a victim of tax fraud.
Check Your Credit Report
Checking your credit report on a regular basis is an excellent way to help make sure no one is using your stolen details to open new credit accounts or take out loans in your name.
Use Only Secure URLs
If you are sending personal or payment information to a website through a webpage that starts with http:// then there is a chance that your data could be stolen. When inputting personal data, always make sure the URL is secure by making sure it starts with https://. The Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) designation indicates that the connection is encrypted and secure.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) essentially creates an encrypted virtual tunnel between your computer and another server anywhere in the world. When using a VPN, your IP address is disguised and your connection is secure against external attacks.
Implement High-Quality Security Software
Outside of data breaches, criminals commonly use malware and phishing scams to steal your personal data. Installing well-regarded antivirus and antimalware software can protect you against these threats.
Avoid Oversharing on Social Media
Cybercriminals are constantly mining social media for personal information. Avoid including data like your date of birth, full name, address, geographical location or details about your work or family in social media posts.
Use Identity Theft Protection or Credit Monitoring Services
If you are concerned about your data privacy, then having a team of experienced cybersecurity experts on your side is the best way to stay safe. Active credit report and identity theft monitoring are essential for helping protect your personal information.