Did you receive a mail that an online service that you use have been breached and that your information may be among the things that the hacker has stolen? So, you are seeking for ways to protect yourself.
Or is it that you just want to prepare yourself so that if in the future the online service you have an account with was breach, then you will know what to do?
No matter your reason, the fact that you are reading this post shows that you are security cautions, and that is a good thing. For no knowledge gained is a waste.
The things you need to do after a data breach of an online service you have an account with is mostly dependent of which type of online service was breached.
For example, if it is your bank that was breached, then you need to either disable or freeze your credit and debit card. If it is your hospital that is breached, then you should monitor your medical bills, reports and medical insurance details.
But regardless of the service that was breached, I have listed below the steps you need to take after the breach. So here they are.
Step 1: Confirm the Breach
If you receive a mail telling you that an online service you have an account with have been breached, do not be in a haste to reply to the mail providing the information that they asked. The mail might be coming from a hacker seeking to use as a medium to extract information from you.
It is bad that your information may have been compromised, it is worst if you were the one giving it out to the hacker.
So, visit the official website of the online service, find out their official mail and contact them using that email address.
Note, when a server breach occurs, thousands even millions of user’s information can be compromised. But that does not mean that yours was compromised.
Most online service providers use multiple data centers for storing users’ information, so if 1 data center is breached, this does not mean that the hacker will have access to the information stored in the other data center(s).
So, when contacting your service provider to confirm the breach, also ask if your account was among those affected by the breach.
Step 2: Confirm what Information was Compromised.
After you have confirmed that a breach of an online service you use did occur, the next thing to do is to find out what information was compromised in the breach.
For example, if Facebook was breached and they said that the hackers was only able to get access to the non-public posts, photos, and videos of users, this would not require you be tensed up as it should if login details was also compromised in the breach.
So, save yourself from unnecessary stress, by finding out, what exact information that was compromised in the breach.
Step 3: Secure your Account
Just because your service provider experienced a breach, this does not mean that your account was actually compromised. However, it is safe to presume that it was.
Thus, try to change your login details such as your password as soon as possible.
Review your Password Recovery option
Also, check if your password recovery option settings have been changed. If it has, this means that the hacker can gain access to your account by resetting the password and then lock you out anytime he wishes.
Hence, even if you have changed your password, check the option and modify it accordingly.
Enable Two-Factor Authentication
If the service provider which was breached offer two-factor Authentication option, consider enabling it now. Do not say it will make your login process stressful.
It is true, your login process will become a little stressful to you, but to hackers, it will make their login process virtually impossible. So, I advise you to enable it.
Secure your other Accounts
If you happen to have used the same password another account with another service provider, go and change it.
Hackers know that many people use the same login detail for several of their online account, so if they are able to get the login details of 1 of your account, they will use it on several other service providers so as to gain access to your account with them.
And since these other service providers did not experience a server breach, you will have a false hope of security.
While you cannot take the 1st and 2nd steps in this regard, you should take the 3rd and 4th steps I have and will outline in this post.
Step 4: Monitor your Account
It has been notices that even after hackers have been able to gain access to a user’s account through a server breach, they usually do not make any obvious change to users account immediately. They can wait for months even years after the breach to act on those accounts.
So, form the habit of monitoring the activities in your account.
Most social media and email service providers offers activity logs, banks offer statement of account, hospitals offer medical records. Therefore, utilize all these and any of the avenue that your service provider offers for you to monitor the activities in your account.
And if you notice any strange activity no matter how small, notify your service provider as soon as possible.
Step 5: Accept and Seek for Help
If after a breach, your online service provider offer you help, it will be wise to accept it, even if the help is for a limited time.
And if the information that was compromised can lead to identity theft and impersonation, then you should seek help from the police department in your jurisdiction, and also that a lawyer.
Also, if the compromised data can affect your financial standing, then seek the assistance of your bank or financial assistance.
What am trying to say is that, if the information in the breach can be used to do you harm offline, then seek for help not only from online sources, but from legal local institution that have been set up to protect you from such harm.
Step 6: Stay Informed
There are several online services such as Firefox Monitor and Have I Been Pwned that monitors the internet to find out if any online service provider has experience a data and which of their users account was compromised.
You should use these services to always stay informed about new breaches.
I also write articles about online security, tutorials, and tips so that you can get the best out of most online service providers. Follow me on social media to get notified when I post new articles or subscribe to my newsletter to the best tutorial or security advice delivered to you via mail.
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