Has Your Data Been Leaked: Our data is at stake whenever we go online – especially when we log into websites and apps. That’s because 39% of businesses (UK Cyber Security Breaches Survey, 2022) are hit by a cyber-attack every year. Users’ email addresses, passwords, and personal information are often stolen in these breaches.
You can check whether you have been affected by a breach using sites like Have I Been Pwned, and if a company loses your data, they must inform you. But what steps should you take if your data is leaked or stolen?
Change your passwords
The most important thing to do if you’re hit is to change all your passwords associated with the email address that’s leaked. This way, hackers won’t be able to access your accounts. They also won’t be able to use the email and password combination they’ve stolen to access other accounts.
Consider a VPN
A virtual private network, or VPN, can stop hackers from stealing your info. While it won’t stop hackers from attacking companies you have given your personal information to, it’s a crucial step. That’s because VPNs encrypt your data when you use the internet, ensuring that hackers can’t get into things like routers and steal your data.
Think about links
Whenever you click on links, always check the actual URL by hovering over (PC) or long-pressing (mobile) the link. That way, you can check if it’s a legitimate website you’re navigating to. When you are on sites that are asking for your information, double-check that they’re legitimate. You can do this by searching for reviews of the site or checking if the site has a valid website security certificate.
Check the company
If you are affected by a data breach, you should be notified by the company, typically by email. The company may also log all affected uses out of their services automatically. They may even want you to reset your password. As such, if you hear about a breach and think it may affect you, the affected business should be your first port of call.
Be vigilant with your finances
Have your financial details been involved in the data leak? If they have, it’s crucial you remove all financial information from your profile on the affected site.
Afterwards, be sure to double-check the relevant bank accounts for suspicious activity. Contact your card company if you see any purchases or withdrawals that you can’t explain too. Also, check your credit file – scammers may have taken out loans or credit cards in your name using your information.
Being affected by data breaches is sadly a fact of life in 2022. But with the above steps, you can stay safe online.