It is with good reason the words “data breach” and “data theft” can place fear and panic in the hearts and minds of people when they find out they have become the target of this type of crime.
The financial costs of data theft can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. In addition, victims may feel violated and suffer from both financial and emotional stress as a result. But the good news is that there are ways to avoid data theft. Here are some of them.
Don’t Give Out Information
The act of stealing confidential, computer-based information is considered to be data theft, and it is occurring at an increasing rate for consumers and businesses alike. However, one of the simplest things you can do to help prevent personal data theft is to protect your information.
Be careful when giving out your information online by making sure the person or company making the request really needs to know what they are asking for. In other words, legitimate businesses you already do business with will not send emails asking for information they should already have.
Update Your Passwords
I used the wording “update your passwords” instead of “change your passwords” for a reason. Not only should you change your passwords often, but you should update them to make them uniquely different from one another for different sites you frequent on the internet.
Don’t use personal information within your passwords. Use eight or more characters in a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols to create a strong password that can’t be easily guessed.
Another tactic is to use a phrase as a password such as “Ilov3catz!” as a password. Whatever phrase you choose, make it something unique to you that you can rearrange the letters and numbers of when it’s time to change passwords, such as changing the “o” in “love” to a zero.
Don’t give out your passwords to anyone and don’t allow your computer, phone, or other electronic device to save passwords for you. A few seconds of inconvenience is worth it to keep your information protected.
Monitor Account Balances
If you choose to do your banking online, log-in to your account and check your balances at least once a week instead of waiting for a monthly statement. If you see anything that looks suspicious, contact your bank immediately. Close monitoring of the activity on your account could be the difference between a small financial loss and the loss of several thousand dollars if you are a victim of data theft.
Install Security Software
Using both anti-virus software and firewalls can help you protect your electronic data. A firewall helps you to control information that is sent to and from your computer and can prevent attacks from ever occurring. Antivirus software can protect your computer from being infected with unwanted spyware, viruses, worms, and other damaging programs that could potentially steal your information and cause you financial strain.
Keep Up With Software Updates
When software updates become available, you should install them timely. Software flaws can be an avenue for potential attackers to hack your system and steal your data. Although it won’t prevent all attacks, it can make it harder for an attacker to break into your system. That may be enough of a deterrent to cause the hacker to abandon you as a target. Some software packages offer automatic updates, so take advantage of these to save yourself time and keep your information safe.
Use Common Sense
Another way to prevent data theft from happening to you is by using good old fashioned common sense. If an email contains grammatical or spelling errors, it may be a phishing scheme. Additionally, emails with offers that sound too good to be true probably are, and may be a way for a criminal to get valuable information from you.
Be Cautious About Who You’re Dealing With
If you receive emails or pop-ups requesting information, don’t click on them. In fact, if you receive emails from a sender you don’t know, don’t open it at all. Instead, delete it. Above all, never open email attachments if you have questions about the sender – they could be phishing for your information.
Be cautious about entering information on websites as well. Take a closer look at website addresses to make sure they are spelled correctly. Criminals often choose website names that are very similar to legitimate ones in order to fool you.
Shut it Down
If your computer is networked with others, shut it down as soon as possible if suspect theft. Doing so could reduce the amount of data the hacker gains access to. It’s also potentially reduce the financial cost to you.
No one intentionally becomes a victim of data theft. By using these ideas to avoid data theft hopefully you can prevent it from happening to you.
What else can you do to avoid the high costs of data theft?