By Reymart Jan Sarigumba,
In this day and age, consumer data breaches have become a new normal, affecting millions of consumers all across the globe. The biggest one so far this year is the Equifax data breach in which the personal data of over 140 million U.S consumers were accessed by hackers. South Africa, Malaysia, and Australia were also hit with cybersecurity breach recently wherein millions of customer data leaked on the internet, placing those affected at risk of identity theft.
Data Breaches Worldwide
In a shocking discovery, a massive data breach has been reported in South Africa a couple of weeks ago, affecting over 30 million of its citizens. A wealth of personal information was breached, ranging from ID numbers to employment details. Now, the website which disclosed the data breach has come up with a search function, allowing South Africans to check whether their email address has been hacked.
Also last month, another cybersecurity breach was reported in Malaysia, involving over 46 million entries of data stolen from various telecommunication companies. This was discovered by a Malaysian technology news site, lowyat.net, claiming it had received a tip-off that someone was doing an attempt to sell millions of personal details on their public forums. Among the personal information on sale include customer names, mobile phone numbers, sim card numbers, and much more. Currently, Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Commission is investigating the data breach, identifying several possible sources of the leak.
Recently, almost 50,000 Australians have had their personal records leaked online in what appears to be one of Australia’s biggest data breaches to date. The exposed data included sensitive information such as names, passwords, numbers, etc. Currently, the Australian government is taking drastic measures to rectify the breach.
Tips for Dealing with a Data Breach of Your Personal Info
The incidents mentioned above are only three among the hundreds of publicly disclosed data breaches that occurred in 2017, and there might be more to come. If the worst happens and your personal data was compromised in a data breach, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Change Your Login Credentials
If your login credentials (e.g. usernames and passwords) are compromised, worry not because they are easy to deal with. Once you know what information the data thieves stole from you, you can easily make it useless to them by changing your username and password. Once you come up with new login credentials, make sure you don’t use them on any other site. This is because if the site is compromised again, identity thieves can easily figure out the login information you’re using on other sites.
Change Your Financial Account Passwords
Once you learned that the site you’re using is compromised, make sure to change your account passwords on any site where you store your financial and private information. Even if they are not the sensitive data that was compromised, you should change them as well. Also, do not forget to change your security questions to make your financial account more secure.
Request for a New Credit/Debit Card
If hackers were able to pull your credit or debit card information, don’t wait for an unknown transaction to show up on your bank statement. Contact your bank immediately, have the card canceled, and request for a new one. The bank might charge you for a fee because no fraudulent activity has occurred yet. This is the better thing to do rather than having to contact the bank after someone has used your card information.
Protect Your Personal Information
Personal information such as Social Security number are the most common type of breaches. They are a goldmine for hackers and data thieves because they can be used for identity theft, getting medical treatment, filing a fake tax return, opening new lines of credit, illegally renting an apartment, creating fake citizenship documents, and much more. All these can be done as long as they obtain the right information. Also, do keep in mind that you can’t change your personal data unlike login credentials or banking information.
Sign Up for an Identity Theft Protection Plan
If the breached website or company is offering you protection against identity theft, make sure to sign up for it. Otherwise, you need to get one. Identity protection plan is typically costly but it will definitely save you the time and trouble from having to check your data from time to time. There’s no need to get an expensive plan; a basic plan will do as long as it offers a guarantee, an effective credit alert system, and remediation services.
Set Up Fraud Alerts
Do not forget to set up fraud alerts on your credit file, this is to ensure that if someone attempts to use your information to take out a loan, for example, you will be able to receive an alert and contact the bank immediately to cancel the transaction.
With the increasing frequency and severity of cybersecurity breaches all around the world, where many individuals are suffering losses and becoming victims of identity theft, it’s important to do preventive measures to cope up with such situations. These will help minimize the impact that a data breach could deal with your sensitive information and assets.