Millions of Americans use computers at work throughout the day. At home, computers and other devices keep us entertained via social media, movies, music, videos and other content. You probably pay your bills and shop online, sometimes providing your personal information. As convenient as it is, there’s always a certain fear at the back of your mind. What if someone hacks your computer or steals your information on the internet?

Let’s take a closer look at what a data breach is and how you can safeguard your internet privacy

What Is a Data Breach?

Cybercriminals make their living by hacking into computer networks and stealing valuable information. Sometimes, they’re looking for corporate or government secrets but most of the time they’re looking for any information they can sell on the Dark Web. This information is valuable on the websites where criminals buy and sell identities.

Keep reading to learn how to protect your identity online and prevent damage to your reputation and financial well-being.

Causes of Data Breaches

According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), ransomware attacks, stolen credentials and unsecured databases give cybercriminals the opportunity they need to steal your information. Most of the time, hackers attack companies with large databases of customer information rather than going after individual users one by one. It’s a numbers game, especially if they’re planning to sell personal information.

  • Businesses can prevent ransomware attacks by backing up databases, refusing to meet ransom demands and using multifactor identification to help prevent unauthorized access to corporate networks.
  • Unfortunately, many people unknowingly give away the keys to the kingdom. Stolen credentials such as usernames and passwords allow thieves to use your identity to break into your company’s network. Individuals can change the passwords often to prevent thieves from stealing their credentials at work or via online accounts.
  • Cloud technology makes it possible to access information and complete transactions anywhere with internet service. However, many corporations fail to properly secure their databases. This makes it easy for hackers to access valuable information via a data breach.

Prevent Identity Theft Due to Data Breaches

Now that you understand the dangers of a data breach, preventing a data breach will be a bit easier. Here are some tips to help you protect your identity and personal information:

  • Only visit protected sites (https://…).
  • Create long passwords that are hard to guess. Using upper and lower case, numbers and special characters makes it hard for hackers to figure out your password.
  • Keep your devices updated with the latest versions of operating systems and applications. This helps to ensure that you have the latest round of security patches needed to the wort hackers.
  • Regularly check your bank statement and other online accounts for unauthorized activity.
  • Check your credit report to make sure that cybercriminals haven’t used your information to open up credit cards and other accounts without your permission.

You can protect yourself from data breaches and identity theft by protecting your Internet privacy.