Social media data breaches are escalating. Last month, a company called Risk Based Security discovered a breach that exposed 350,000 social media users.
Social networks are the biggest target these days and many users are affected each time. Only six attacks have caused 56% of all social media breaches.
Preparing for the Inevitable – Social Media Data Breaches Are on the Rise
If you believe your personal information was leaked, start by running a background check on yourself. Visit https://checkpeople.com and run a search on your name. Pay attention to anything that’s out of the ordinary (for example, social media accounts that you have not created, or a home address that you don’t recognize). The good thing about a simple online background check is that it will buy you valuable time (visit https://www.sterlingcheck.com/services/fingerprinting/ for more info). For example, Facebook took almost three months to notify its users about the security breach, a very long time in which other accounts could be hacked too.
Verify Other Accounts
Start by changing all your passwords, and check for any unusual activity (verify, for example, the “sent” folder on your email accounts). Immediately check your bank statements and look for any unrecognized purchase. Cybercriminals can start with very small amounts to avoid triggering alarms. If your bank offers the possibility, ask to get a message for every transaction. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, it is important to report it. You can do it here.
Check your Mailbox
Missing mail is an important red flag, as is unrecognized mail. Are you suddenly getting a new bank statement? Have your utility bills disappeared? Follow through. Cancel any card or service that you did not order and notify providers about your concerns for identity theft.
Prevention is Key
Some education experts believe that cybersecurity training will become mandatory in middle school during the coming years. We all need to learn how to protect ourselves against cyber-attacks. A few things that you may do to keep your information safe are:
- Be mindful of what you share, and avoid personal details. You may think that sharing your pet’s name on social media is harmless, but data shows that pet names are one of the most commonly chosen security questions for online banking.
- Avoid using apps and services that use your social media credentials for logging in. Love that new face swap app? Read the tiny letters before using it. Some of these can store and even sell your information.
- Whenever possible, enable two-step authentication.
- Pay attention to your friend’s accounts. If you think that message is odd or weirdly worded, don’t click any links and notify them. The same goes for duplicate accounts.
- Use different passwords for each account, and make sure they are safe. You can find more information about secure passwords here.
If you allow your children to have social media accounts, it is very important to establish parental controls and monitor their interactions. Children are especially vulnerable to cyber threats, and it is very important to teach them how to keep their information safe. Remember that social media usage –and the internet in general– can pose important risks to children’s safety.
Remember that we all have a digital footprint and that it will remain attached to us for life. Be careful about sharing sensitive or important information via social media. While most networks invest a lot in security, most of what you share is still publicly visible. When you sign up to a social network (including dating sites), read all the information about how and where your information will be shared. Some of them give you the option to opt-out from certain lists that can put your information at risk. Use the internet responsibly, learn about cyber-security, and protect your right to privacy as much as you can.