If you’re like most of us, chances are you’ve joined the ever-growing “I’ve been hacked” club. From the latest Equifax hack to Yahoo’s reveal of the true extent of its hack from months ago, it’s more likely than not that your data has been stolen. Your full name, date of birth, email address, and even Social Security Number may be at a hacker’s fingertip. This is a scary reality that millions of people must now face.
As a victim, you may be worried about identity theft, identity fraud, the risk of stolen funds. The best reaction you can have is to take action. There are many things you can do to protect yourself and your confidential information.
Keep reading for 4 things you should do after discovering you’ve been hacked.
- Be Mindful With Passwords
For any affected services that have been hacked, you want to immediately change the password. If that same password is used in any other locations, you want to change those passwords as well.
As a general security practice, you want to avoid reusing passwords. Each password you use should be strong and secure. Proper password etiquette includes using:
- Special characters such as !, @, # and $
- A mix of uppercase, lowercase, and numbers
- At least 10 characters
It’s also important to change your password periodically. To better manage your passwords, consider using a password management application.
- Protect Your Computer
Attackers can steal information in various ways. It’s possible that the hacker stole your information by attacking your computer. Hackers can use malware, such as trojans and worms, to steal data. If your computer isn’t running antivirus software, you may unknowingly have malware on your machine.
After an attack, protect yourself by installing antivirus software on your computer. Run a scan on your computer to check for any malware. This software will remove any malware that could leave your computer vulnerable.
To protect your computer in the future, schedule routine scans. You will also want to regularly update the software to ensure you’re running the most recent version.
- Protect Your Email Address
Most breaches, including the most recent ones, involved a variety of information, including names, credit card numbers, and email addresses. Nowadays it’s common for most websites to ask for your email address. You use email to sign into Facebook and other social media networks. Companies will ask for your email address to sign up for their mailing list to receive promotions and deals.
The more you provide your email address, the more likely you are to receive spam. If you’ve noticed an increase in spam emails in your inbox, you may want to consider email masking. Are you wondering what is email masking?
To mask your email address, you’ll need to use a third-party browser extension. Abine Blur is one of the most commonly used masking extensions. This tool gives you the option to mask your email address whenever it is asked for on a website. Blur will provide you with an email mask. When email is sent to the mask, it’s forwarded to your real email address.
By using a masked email, you share your real email address less often. This protects you from spam and data breaches.
- Review Your Credit Report
Most hackers are after your financial information. If a hacker gains access to your banking account information, Social Security #, or log-in information, they may open new accounts in your name. Hackers are infamous for applying to financial institutions for loans and credit cards in their victim’s names.
You will want to keep tabs on your credit report. Each year you can check your credit report for free, and you’ll want to examine the top 3 reports, including Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. When looking at your reports check for correctness by examining:
- Open accounts
- Balances on loans
- Any lenders that have pulled your credit report
If you notice any discrepancies on your report, you will want to contact the credit union immediately. You can work with them to resolve any discrepancies or fraudulent accounts.
To protect your credit, consider placing a freeze on your 3 credit reports. A freeze protects you against unauthorized account openings as well as unauthorized credit pulls. You will be given a PIN which allows you to unfreeze your account when necessary.
Protecting yourself after being the victim of a hack is your most important defense. Use these 4 tips to protect and secure your data in the future.
Most importantly, stay abreast of any breaches. If you are affected by a breach in the future, it’s important to understand what was stolen and how the breach may impact you.