data breach
data breach. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

In the internet-driven world, you’ve probably heard about data breaches a lot. If you’re still unaware of the meaning behind data breach and how it affects internet users, this article can help you.

Since a data breach can endanger your privacy by resulting in identity theft, let’s delve deeper into what it is, what causes it, and what you can do to prevent or mitigate it.

What is a data breach?

Any unauthorized breach of your security resulting in a third party trying to access your private and personal data is considered a data breach. It is a security incident where hackers and cybercriminals steal your sensitive information by hacking into your devices where your sensitive information is stored.

Cybercriminals have several ways for breaching your security:

  • By bypassing your system firewalls and infecting your devices with malware.
  • By identifying security vulnerabilities in your system.
  • By sending spyware, ransomware, or malware via spam and phishing emails.
  • By sending infected download links containing viruses via emails.

Many internet users use weak passwords on their devices or the same password for all their online accounts. It is like sending an invitation to hackers to snatch your data. Now, data breaches usually happen to all sorts of business organizations, but don’t let this fool you – they also happen to ordinary internet users quite frequently. Even if perpetrators do not target you, the business that suffers might have information on you.

Once they have all the information about your devices and accounts, hackers start looking for points of entry. Once they enter your system, they will start exploiting potential vulnerabilities by either breaching your data, hijacking your devices, taking over accounts, or uploading spyware, adware, ransomware, or malware. Here are some of the worst things that can happen:

  • Identity theft – if hackers steal your identity, they can use it for many different purposes, such as securing bank loans, hijacking your accounts, filing tax returns, or selling your identity on the dark web market.
  • Financial loss – data breaches almost always result in financial losses.
  • Ruined credit score – if hackers manage to steal your identity and commit crimes with it, it can destroy your credit score and result in experiencing difficulties in getting rental agreements, finding jobs, getting bank loans, etc.
  • Privacy issues – identity theft results in a total lack of privacy due to information you wanted to keep private now being publicly available.
  • Ruined reputation – since your private information will be exposed, chances are that your reputation will be damaged.
  • Loss of intellectual property – if hackers manage to steal your intellectual property, you’ll soon face an array of expenses, including financial losses.
  • Ransom – in most cases, hackers will hijack your device and all data on it to force you to pay a monetary ransom to get your data/device back.

General practices to help you prevent data breaches

Create multiple, strong passwords

Since every internet user has multiple online accounts, the first thing you should do is make sure your passwords are versatile and strong enough. Each account should have a unique, complicated, and strong password.

Use a VPN

A VPN is an excellent way to add additional layers to your privacy and anonymity online. It can significantly increase your online safety by encrypting both your IP addresses and online traffic. Tools like Atlas VPN also go above and beyond to protect you. How? Well, such tools have additional features design to protect your identity online. For instance, data breach scanner will help you determine whether personal data is safe.

Update your software regularly

Make sure you frequently check for updates for your software, as these updates bring patches you need to maintain high levels of security and prevent potential breaches.

Monitor your credit and financial accounts

Almost every credit card loaner or bank offers various identity theft protection services that allow you to automatically monitor your credit cards, bank, and financial accounts. In case any data breach occurs, you’ll notice any unauthorized access.



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