The ongoing saga of the Sony hack, from gossip about Angelina Jolie’s acting skills to disturbing threats against theaters planning to show The Interview, has dominated headlines the past couple of weeks.
Amid the North Korean intrigue, one lesser- followed aspect is that many former Sony employees whose data were hacked announced they would sue the company for failing to protect their data.
Anyone paying attention to the news lately would be rightly concerned about the number of data breaches or hacks suffered by major companies from Home Depot to JP Morgan Chase and Target.
At BeenVerified, we don’t recommend operating from a position of fear. On the contrary, we believe information and awareness are your most powerful tools for managing through today’s environment, which is admittedly filled with potential threats.
While you likely can’t prevent North Korea or Russia hacking your company, favorite retailer or even Uncle Sam, you can take the following steps to minimize the fallout:
1. Know Who Has Your Private Data
This is the most important step. While it’s likely dozens or hundreds of companies have your name and email address, a select few also have access to your social security number, health records, and salary information. Make sure you know which organizations those are.
If you hear about your bank, employer or even hospital suffering a data breach, then you know you need to take immediate action. In the meantime, you can call these organizations to get a clearer understanding of what safeguards they have in place to protect your data.
As for those hundreds of email lists you’ve signed up for, don’t discount what a dedicated thief can do with just those limited pieces of information. Financial losses from phishing attacks were estimated at $1.5 billion in 2012.
2. Investigate Holes in Your Cloud
Many will remember the celebrity iCloud scandal from earlier this year featuring major celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Hudson. While private photos being stolen may not have the same impact as losing a substantial amount of money, the emotional trauma can be much worse.
More importantly, the iCloud hack has left serious questions about the security and appropriateness of cloud storage in general. Many cloud providers, including Apple, have said that the issue is not with the technology itself but rather how users manage their own security settings.
If you’re storing anything more personal than video game high scores on the cloud, it’s a good idea to review your privacy settings and password protocols now. Guard your IDs for logging into your cloud tightly as even the best hackers typically need some personal information in order to break in.
Even as new solutions emerge for cloud security, hackers find ways around them, so think carefully about what you store on the cloud and know the risks.
3. Invest in a Shredder
While the new generation of data breaches that have afflicted companies and consumers alike seem to exist in a world of high-tech software, there are some hardware solutions that can help prevent hackers from getting a leg up on you.
Ensure that all bills, bank statements and even presorted junk mail with your name on it is thoroughly destroyed before being thrown away. Many scams still revolve around obtaining your info through traditional pieces of mail.
If you are especially worried about being hacked or having your identity stolen, regular check ups of your credit report, as well as running a background check can serve as tools to alert you to anything amiss.