Another day, another headline – another breach. Whether you’re securing your company or your identity, with each compromising headline, we ask ourselves how we’ll be impacted, how it happened and how worried we should be. Particularly for those outside of the information security world, it can turn into a relentless loop of questions and concerns.
With millions of people impacted by recent breaches, the chances are becoming more likely that it is not a matter of if your information will be compromised but when.
But don’t panic – getting flustered often leads to mistakes that could truly put your information at risk. Instead, take a break from the headlines to make sure you’re doing all you can to protect your identity.
Keep an Eye on Your Credit
To stay ahead of scammers, stay on top of your credit. Each of the three credit reporting agencies – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion – will provide one free copy of your credit report every year. If you’ve never obtained your reports, it is important to note that they will not necessarily match as each agency has their own system.
- To best keep track of when to get your reports, you might want to get them all at the same time the first year and then stagger them throughout the year to keep a pulse on any activity that might seem irregular.
- Because each agency will give you one free report per year, set up calendar reminders to keep track of when you should request the reports from each company.
The more familiar you are with your credit, the quicker you become at detecting fraudulent behavior. Make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name by setting up fraud alerts on your accounts. Contact your credit card companies and banks to discuss personalized alert options that inform you of suspect behavior.
Beware Phishing Scams
Posing as trusted organizations or individuals has been a successful tactic for malicious hackers. The truth is that reputable organizations are not going to solicit sensitive information via email so be wary of such requests. It can be more difficult to identify the threat when a message comes from a friend. Hackers feed on familiarity and with the abundance of information available on social media, hackers can easily tailor messages with a malicious link that looks as if it’s coming from someone you know and trust.
Threat actors also try to create a sense of urgency or panic in hopes you will make hasty decisions or click a link that captures your data. Watch out for scare tactics and links embedded in emails. Typing in a web address might seem like a hassle, but it does not compare to the hassle of trying to undo the damage of an identity thief.
Passwords Help Protect Your Privacy
Learn the most commonly used passwords. Commit them to memory. Now never ever use them to keep your information secure. If there are things you want to lose a popularity contest, it’s your passwords. Plural. Hackers can do enough damage if they secure a password to just one site. Don’t make it easy for them to gain access to more of your information. Using the same password for multiple sites makes all of your data more vulnerable. If memorizing a variety of randomly generated passwords seems like a daunting task, look into using a secure, reputable password manager. Password managers can help you keep track of your log-in credentials and allow you to regularly update them without causing constant headaches.
- Use the management tools to easily create strong, unique passwords for every site
- Management tools mean you don’t have to remember your passwords and they automatically fill in your credentials when you go to each site (time saver!)
- Set up reminders to change your passwords every six weeks – it’s worth it
Understand the Threat Landscape
Malicious hackers are constantly evolving, and they are employing more sophisticated tactics to gain access to individual and corporate data. Though the average web surfer may not need to dive into how the cybersecurity space is changing, it’s critical for organizations of all sizes to understand the risks and how to guard against them. When you’re reading about the next breach, take a few minutes to consider what protections you have in place so that you can stay ahead of the threat actors and out of the headlines.