It happens a lot more frequently than companies care to admit. You turn on the nightly news, and there is a report on a new data breach. With the rapid evolution of cyberattacks, it seems that no industry is immune. Whether it be a top government agency, a digital platform, international companies, or local businesses, cybercriminals target anyone with network vulnerabilities. Sometimes the data contains personal identification details. Other times the target is banking data or entire identities.

Regardless of the contents in a breach, it’s scary enough to think someone else has access to your private information. So how do you know if your personal data was compromised or not? Here are some critical signs to watch for and what to do about them. 

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Watch for Warnings and Unusual Signs of Data Breaches

When you hear of a report regarding a data breach, your first thought is probably going to be, “was my information compromised?” While you might not be able to know for sure if your Personal Identifiable Information, or PII, was part of the breach, there are a series of warning signs you can be on the lookout for in any scenario. If you experience any of these red flags, we highly recommend taking action immediately to avoid serious damage. 

Suspicious Login Attempts

Many apps now monitor where you access their services and on what devices. If your account information is entered from a suspicious location, one of two security scenarios will usually happen. In the first scenario, you’ll receive a prompt to confirm your identity by using multi-factor authentication.

In this step, you can enter a code sent to you either by email, text, or phone call. In the second scenario, you’ll receive an email message notifying you that someone attempted or successfully logged in as you. If that login attempt was not you, you’d have the option to report the activity as suspicious.  

If you’ve ever checked your email while travelling to a new place, you’ve likely received one of these warnings. It may be tempting to ignore these warnings, but it’s also your chance to keep your information protected in the event of an actual hack. We highly recommend reading every notification email to ensure no one attempts to log in to your account from an odd location. 

Unusual Bank Charges

One of the more common examples of cybercrime is stolen customer banking data. Whether it’s a large company whose data was breached or malware on your device harvesting your personal information, monitoring your accounts can help you spot suspicious activity sooner.

Credit card companies and banks have security systems to catch suspicious activity on accounts belonging to their clients. However, banks don’t see everything. There are types of malware that cleverly disguise their activity, making nominal charges on thousands of accounts, resulting in difficulties tracking them. We recommend checking your bank accounts regularly for any unfamiliar charges and investigating anything suspicious.  

Lost Account Access

When hackers steal personal information, they can take over accounts by changing passwords and locking legitimate owners out of their own profiles. You’ll know this has happened when you attempt to log into your account and are greeted with a message that tells you your username or password are incorrect. If you have not recently changed your password and there is no chance you’ve entered it wrong by leaving the caps lock button on, then your account might have been hacked.

Each company and application will have its own protocols for account recovery that will likely require you to provide additional details to prove your identity. You’ll also want to notify your friends and networks that you have lost access to your accounts if the hackers attempt to impersonate you. 

The Best Defense Is Proactive

The best way to defend your PPI is to take proactive steps to protect it. Use strong passwords, multi-authentication whenever possible, and secure networks. It’s far more cost-effective to invest in cybersecurity than to repair the damage of stolen information and hacked identities. If you suspect your accounts are at risk, the first step to take to protect your account from further damage is to change your password. If you’ve noticed any suspicious activity, then you can report them to the companies involved. 

Cybersecurity Services for Businesses in Edmonton

If your small business needs cybersecurity-as-a-service, Alt-Tech Inc. offers CISO support and or virtual services, infrastructure control, IT security, as well as security information and event management (SIEM). Contact us to see how we can help protect your business data.