Cyberattacks are on the rise – What to do if you’ve been a victim of a data breach

In the modern world that we live in, we rely more and more on technology and online services. Our smart gadgets accompany us everywhere we go and make our lives infinitely easier. But although we enjoy numerous benefits thanks to the internet and the use of smart devices, the online world is also filled with many unknown threats. 

Unfortunately, digitization increases the risk of cyberattacks, so the chances of falling victim to a data breach have increased significantly over the past few years. With more people using popular apps and navigating the internet these days, cybercriminals are also busier than ever. Major data breaches have become commonplace occurrences lately, making people wonder about the safety of the data and information they share online.    

If a company or organization that holds your personal information has experienced a data breach, you as a victim must know what you’re supposed to do next. The news of having your data stolen and used by someone is indeed scary, so it can be difficult to keep a clear head and react in a rational manner. But it’s important to stay calm and act quickly in order to minimize damages and make sure that the event won’t have serious consequences. So, here are a few steps that you should follow in the wake of a data breach.  

Confirm that the data breach is real 

Sometimes rumors of a data breach can hit the headlines and get spread by the media, creating complete chaos among people, only to find out later that the news was fake or that it was just a misunderstanding that got blown out of proportion. So, before you start panicking that you are a victim of a data breach, you should first make sure that the breach happened and it’s not just a story that someone made up on the internet.

The smartest thing to do in such a situation is to contact the company that allegedly suffered the data breach and ask for information from the source. Companies have the legal obligation to notify their clients in case something like this happens, so they’re the only ones that can clarify the situation. 

Find out if your information was exposed

Even if the breached company holds sensitive data about you, it doesn’t automatically mean that your information was stolen. When cybercriminals target major organizations in an attempt to obtain valuable information, they steal data that can be of use to them, and your data might not fall in that category. You might be one of the lucky fellows that got away unharmed by the data breach. 

When these types of events happen, the breached companies usually establish a call center to help clients figure out if they were amongst the victims. The only way to determine if your information was indeed stolen is to contact them and ask for details. 

Find out what type of information was stolen 

Once you have the confirmation that the data breach was real and that your data fell into the wrong hands, the next thing you have to do is find out what type of information was stolen. This is important because it can help you determine the extent of the damage that can result from the data breach. 

For example, if your credit card information was stolen, you can simply cancel the credit card and replace it with a new one, and that’s the end of it. But if cyber criminals got hold of your social security number or other sensitive personally identifiable information, they can do a lot more with it and the damages they can cause can be much more serious.  

Stealing sensitive, confidential, or otherwise protected data is a crime that has many legal ramifications, but since you’re probably not a lawyer and your knowledge in the legal field is limited, it can be difficult for you to understand what these types of crimes imply and what legal procedures you have to follow. 

As experts at Data Breach Law explain, if you’ve been a victim of a data breach, you have the right to receive compensation for your loss. That’s why it’s important to contact a lawyer who can assess your case and advise you on the best course of action. 

Notify relevant institutions 

One very important step you have to take right after the data breach is to contact the relevant institutions and let them know what happened. That’s why you should know what type of data was stolen from you. 

If your credit card information was exposed, you should contact your financial institution to cancel your card. If your Social Security number has been compromised, things are a bit more complicated as you could become a victim of identity theft or fraud. In this case, you must contact the relevant authorities to file a complaint, and consider identity theft protection services and credit monitoring. 

Change your passwords and secure your accounts  

A measure you can and should take immediately after having your data stolen is to change your login information and passwords of all the accounts that have been compromised by the data breach. This is something you can do on your own, without asking authorities for help, so it’s a quick and simple step to ensure your safety.

Apart from changing your login credentials on your account, you should also change security Q&A. Make sure your new passwords are strong, secure, and unique, and sing-up for two-factor authentication for extra protection. 

Keep in touch with the breached company 

A data breach can have long-term consequences, and it can take a while for the company and authorities to assess the gravity of the situation. As time goes by, there can be new developments in your case, so you should keep in touch with the breached company to find out how things are going.

In most cases, the company will send regular updates to those who have been affected by the data breach, but you can also contact them yourself to ask for updates on the situation.