Today’s Scam of the day is a follow-up to yesterday’s Scam of the day in which I discussed the major data breach at Ticketfly. Today’s Scam of the day is focused on what you can do to protect your security in a time where major data breaches are commonplace. Data breaches of major companies and governmental agencies have become frequent in the last few years. With many companies and governmental agencies failing to take proper security measures to protect your data, it is truly more a question of when, not if, will your personal information be stolen by hackers. The threat of identity theft to you posed by a data breach is very much dependent on how sensitive is the personal information stolen. At its most benign, email addresses or other similar information may be used by hackers to formulate spear phishing emails and text messages to lure you into clicking on malware infected links which may include ransomware or keystroke logging malware that can lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft. At its worst, such as in the Equifax data breach, sensitive personal information such as your Social Security number can be used directly to make you a victim of identity theft.
So what should you do?
You are only as safe as the places with the weakest security that hold your personal information. As much as possible, you should limit the amount of personal information that you provide to companies and institutions with which you do business. Your doctor may ask for your Social Security number as a means of identification, but he or she has no legal need for it. Also, you should protect your own personal electronic devices, such as your computer and cell phone by always promptly updating all of the programs you use when new updates or security patches become available. Don’t use your debit card for online purchases because the liability protections for fraudulent use of your debit card are not as strong as those for credit cards. Use strong unique passwords for all of your accounts so that if your password is compromised at one company, all of your accounts are not in jeopardy. Also, use dual factor authentication whenever you can for added security.
A helpful website that tracks data breaches and whether you have been affected by them is Have I Been Pawned where you can to and find out if your information was affected by recent data breaches. Here is a link to their website.
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