Data breaches are becoming more prevalent as the usage of electronic devices for information sharing purposes such as shopping and communication increases. The sharing of credit card information and other personal information online makes it easier for hackers to access and exploit data.

With individuals, small companies and large corporations and institutions all relying on electronic data sharing to conduct business, it’s vital to use common sense data protection methods to avoid becoming a target of these criminal activities. These are the most widely recommended data protections methods by cybersecurity experts:

1. Craft complex passwords

Hackers have many methods of figuring out a password, and one of them is decryption software. This type of software can sometimes quickly test and figure out simple passwords made up of a single word or a common combination of numbers.

So in order to prevent such easy access to your accounts, consider creating complex passwords that combine lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. The longer and more complex a password are, the better. In case you’ve suffered a data breach already, make sure to change your passwords as quickly as possible to prevent further hacking exploits.

2. Use different passwords

Creating just one complex password isn’t enough. It’s important to use a different password on each account in order to prevent a chain-link reaction.

In other words, if a hacker manages to hack your email password, for example, they could have access to all of your other accounts if you’ve used the same password to protect them.

By using a different password on each account the chances of a chain-link reaction happening are drastically reduced.

3. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Many websites nowadays provide the multi-factor authentication (MFA) option, which provides additional security. In order to access an account, the user needs to insert the username and password as well as a special one-time code that is sent to the designated phone number or email address.

While this procedure takes a couple of seconds more to log into your account it’s a great, cost-free security upgrade as well.

4. Protect yourself against identity theft

A data breach is followed by identity theft in one out of three cases. This means that a criminal could use your personal information to run havoc by spending money with a credit card or accessing business information that only selected personnel has access to.

If you know that you’ve suffered from a data breach, contact the credit card companies you work with and have them set up security alerts and freeze your accounts. Next, contact your local Social Security office to figure out further steps.

5. Set up account alerts

Set up a notification alert on your accounts in case a suspicious purchase was made or a large sum of money was spent. Another great option is setting up a location alert.

Some accounts allow geo-tracking, so if login or a purchase is made from a distant location, you will receive an alert and will be able to act fast to prevent further damage.

6. Monitor your billing and financial statements

Don’t depend solely on immediate alerts. Be sure to also check your statements regularly. Don’t check for only big withdrawals. Criminals will sometimes rely on small purchases over a long period of time in order to get away with stealing money without getting detected.

7. Check your credit report

A free credit report can be received once per year and it’s good to keep track of it for any drastic changes that can indicate a data breach.

On top of that, you can sign up for a credit monitoring service, which is usually paid services. However, you can get also get free credit monitoring from companies like CreditKarma or Credit Sesame.

8. Use Nuwber to identify potential criminals

If you receive a shady email asking for your private information, it’s got to check who the email sender is.

Identifying potential crooks has become easier with services like Nuwber. This is a paid service that can track a person based on private information such as an email, phone number, address and more.

In case you’ve suffered a data security breach and you suspect it came from a particular email or similar source, this can also help with finding the perpetrator.

9. Educate your employees and family members

The people close to you can be a potential security weakness as well. If your employee suffers a data breach, this could potentially jeopardize your entire company. Likewise, if members of your family suffer from a data breach and identity theft, this could have a negative impact on your finances and overall safety.

Find educational seminars on cybersecurity basics in your local area or simply share articles such as this one to important people in your life. Some of this information will surely rub off on them and improve their decision-making online.

10. Prevent physical hacking of your devices

Hackers don’t operate only online and through software. Keeping your electronic devices safe from physical intrusions is also important. For example, avoid leaving your laptop or mobile phone unmonitored in a library, coffee place or open workplace.

If you leave it unattended for a couple of minutes, make sure to set up a password beforehand which will prevent someone from using the device in a short period of time.

Conclusion

Data breaches can be seriously harmful to your finances and overall safety. They can to identity theft, blackmail, fraud and other harmful scenarios that can impact not only yourself but also your business and family.

It’s important to take the necessary precautions such as setting up multiple complex passwords for different accounts, implementing multi-factor authentication and enabling alerts in case of suspicious account activity.

By using these security methods you can prevent data breach dangers and use online resources at your disposal more safely.