Are you at risk of a data breach?
Why you should be concerned
We all have password-protected accounts but is your password strength enough? Consider how often you access banking, email, social media, and work accounts. If someone gains access to one of these accounts, they could do a lot of damage. With access to an account, hackers may gain access to other accounts by guessing the password or using an email address to reset the password. This can lead to fraudulent purchases, identity theft, and losing an account (or several). While support centers may help regain access to compromised accounts, typically, some loss is incurred. Whether it is messages sent on your behalf or stolen funds, the hassle of rebuilding your accounts is often frustrating.
Warning signs and what to do
Here are some signs you may have been hacked:
- Changes on your social media, such as following new accounts, posts, or direct messages you didn’t send. Messages or emails sent to your contacts are a common way for hackers to try to get information from your friends, family or colleagues.
- Changes in your email inbox, such as messages you haven’t opened are marked as “read.”
- Purchases or financial transfers on your bank or credit card account that you didn’t make.
- Notifications saying your password has been changed and you did not change it.
If you catch unusual activity like this early, you may be able to secure your account and avoid further trouble. However, it’s still a good idea to let your contacts know what’s happening, especially if any account related to your job is hacked. In that case, you should inform your technical support center as soon as possible.
Here are some other ways to protect your data:
- Avoid reusing usernames and passwords across different accounts. When a company alerts you that your account may have been breached, change your password as soon as possible.
- Pay close attention to data breach alerts or notifications urging you to log in immediately. Do these messages look or sound like other emails from the same company? If something seems slightly off, do not click any links as these messages may be phishing attempts.¹ In any case, mark all emails from a suspicious address as spam.
- If you lose access to an online shopping or social media account, change the password for other accounts associated with that account, such as a recovery email.
- Avoid using easily guessed passwords such as “123456,” “football,” “qwerty,” “summer,” or personal details like your name, birthday, or address.
- For sensitive accounts such as bank accounts, insurance accounts, email addresses and mobile payment services, use a lengthy password.
This blog is up to date as of September 2022 and has not been updated for changes in the law, administration or current events.