A surprising number of data breaches are relatively simple to avoid. Indeed, while you cannot fully control how businesses and other organizations use and/or maintain your sensitive information, you can certainly protect your own business and home systems. To do so, you need to be diligent, but most people are not; a whopping 64% of Americans have never even checked to see if they were affected by a data breach although data breaches are happening all the time. Roughly 1 in 13 web requests lead to malware, and yet, users remain surprisingly trusting toward large businesses to protect their identities. Until industry is better regulated to maintain your personal and financial information, here’s what you can do:
Get Educated: Reading the material on this website is an excellent start, but also remain aware regarding to which companies you’ve given your personal, medical and/or financial information. Check periodically; if there have been data breaches reported against any of those companies with whom you’ve done business or facilities where you’ve sought medical treatment or obtained prescriptions, take action. Not only should you seek legal counsel immediately and perform a search using the tools on this page to determine the likelihood that your sensitive data was accessed, but consider contacting the authorities, initiating a credit freeze and/or purchasing credit monitoring services.
Contact Companies: Consider contacting facilities and companies who possess your personal information and ask them what measures they are currently taking to protect it. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer, demand that they do more, and then contact us.
Backup Your Data: In some circumstances, the information you’ve given to third parties can also be backed up on your own home or work system. Don’t trust that companies to which you’ve given your information will necessarily have access to that information tomorrow–especially if they’ve recently experienced a cyber-attack. Create your own personalized storage and recovery system.
Request Data Deletion: If you have not done business with a company for a long time and do not intend to further do business with it, ask it to purge your data from its network. Companies often maintain your personal data exclusively for their own marketing purposes. Unless you welcome those marketing efforts, consider asking them to delete your data.
Use Available Tools: Use a password generator and password manager. Don’t open suspicious emails. Be vigilant for any suspicious activity on your email account. If you use the same password as the email account anywhere else, change it immediately. Check sites you regularly use to ensure they’re safe.
Protect Credit Cards and Passwords: This measure is one you will hear the most from cyber security experts. We should all know by now how important it is to change passwords frequently, and to not transmit financial or other highly protected information across the Internet unless absolutely necessary (and, even then, only to persons or companies you trust). But what passwords are you choosing? To whom within your family or company or larger network have you given access to your credit cards? Do you give critical information to vendors over the telephone? Answers to these questions will indicate whether or not you are already a pro at keeping your data secure.
Please understand that no single measure or set of measures will comprehensively protect you, but these guidelines should take you far to protect your identity from criminal threat.
Finally, call us. Seriously…call us. We have extensive experience addressing privacy issues and can serve as an invaluable resource to you, not to mention your advocates for a substantial financial recovery.