Data breaches occur when personal information is accessed or disclosed without authorisation. Every year, millions of sensitive online details such as usernames, passwords and email addresses are compromised in cyber attacks from hundreds of sites around the world. These stolen details are published and sold on the dark web, where criminals can use them to gain access to your sensitive information. Other forms of this phenomenon include unintentional information disclosure, data and information leaks, and data spill.
Being involved in a data privacy breach does not necessarily mean your identity has been stolen. It is important, however, to know what type of information may have been stolen and the impact such breaches can have on you. Name, Date of Birth, Email, Usernames, Phone Numbers, Residential Address.
Your name and date of birth may seem like insignificant information but losing it to hackers can have a significant impact on your life. Hacked information can be used for social engineering attacks to gather additional information and build up a complete profile of you, and your identity has been stolen.
Hackers can use the stolen data to potentially apply for credit cards, medical benefits, and lodge your tax returns.
A more severe data breach can lead to identity theft. Hackers can utilise information found through data breaches to open bank accounts, set up utilities and tarnish your credit report.
Hackers can also use this sensitive data to trick you into thinking they have videos and images of you in a compromising position, requesting payment to stop the content being uploaded.
The key to your online security is to have a strong password, but the challenge is to create distinct passwords that reduce your risk of exposure to cyber attacks. When it comes to creating a strong password, there are several aspects to keep in mind.
This is the most critical factor when generating a new password. The longer the better, always try and create a password that is at least 15 characters long.
The more you mix characters, the tougher it is for hacking software to guess your password. Use a mixture of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters to make your password harder to crack.
Do not use sequential keyboard paths such as (qwerty, or asdfgh). These sequential passwords make it very easy for hacking software to decode your password.
Avoid using information that may be easily available. Information such as your date of birth, first and last names, children or pet names and phone numbers.
Passwords such as 12345, password, abc123, and iloveyou are more common than you think. Avoid using passwords like the ones previously mentioned as they can be easy to decode.