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How to protect yourself from a data breach

Shawn M. Carter

Data breaches don’t just happen to big brands like Facebook. They can hit small mom-and-pop shops and individual people, leaving personal and sensitive information exposed.

In 2019, there were more than 4,000 publicly disclosed breaches, exposing 8 billion compromised records including addresses, credit card numbers and phone numbers.

That includes a hack at game maker Zynga, which in October 2019 revealed that the usernames and email addresses of 218 million customers who installed iOS and Android versions of “Draw Something” and “Words with Friends” had been exposed. And already in 2020, a breach at Fifth Third Bank unveiled Social Security numbers and other key data.

While the types of hacks can vary, there are a few common reasons they ever happen in the first place. The most common, according to World Wide Specialty Programs, is criminal.

In fact, 48 percent of all breaches are caused by criminal hacking, the company notes. That includes malicious computer coding and stolen credentials, like usernames and passwords.

Other, less common types of hacks, were the result of malware, phishing or human error.

One way to protect against a breach is to be aware that one could happen.

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“Be selective and consider whether you have a reason to think a given provider will protect your privacy and security,” Cameron F. Kerry, a visiting fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution told FOX Business

People should only share data necessary for the service, like location data for ride-sharing, and they should keep software updates current to protect security.

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“We all accept some risk interacting online,” he said. “You can limit it but you can’t avoid it.”

Ronn Torossian, Chief Executive Officer of 5WPR agreed.

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“We tell people to ‘own it, secure it and protect it’ by using long and strong passwords, implementing multi-factor authentication on any account it’s offered and to update the latest security software, web browser and operating systems,” he told FOX Business.

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