Data Breaches and Privacy Violations – Where Does Your Information Go?

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Data breaches are nothing new. Since the invention of the internet, we’ve heard different stories about data leaks. No one is completely safe from these data leaks, unless you go completely off-the-grid. Even big companies with fancy gadgets and security measures can be breached. All it takes is one vulnerability, and while everyone focuses on protecting certain areas, hackers find those vulnerabilities and expose them. But what happens to the data once it’s been leaked?

This article will cover breaches with examples of a few recent breaches. Then we’ll look at what happens to the data once it’s been leaked. We’ll also give you a few suggestions on protecting yourself, such as using a proxy service, like those provided by Smartproxy. Keep reading to find out what happens to your data after a breach and how to protect yourself.

The Difference Between Being Hacked And Breached

Before we continue, it’s important to know the difference between a data hack and a data breach. To many individuals, it may seem to be a term for the same thing, i.e. a hacker bypassing security measures and getting access to confidential information. And while parts of this can be true for both, there is still a big difference that should be understood if users want to keep their private information from being leaked all over the internet.

A data breach is classified as the unintentional release of information from one trusted site to another untrusted source. This breach occurs when data is accidentally left unsecured and can be attributed to negligence, incompetence, human error or a combination of these. While no malicious intent is meant, this can have serious costs and consequences for everyone involved.

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At its most basic level, a hack is the modification of computer hardware and software so that it works differently than what the developer intended. A hack is not done by accident and is not the result of vulnerable information. A hack is an intentional attempt at stealing personal data to commit a malicious act like identity theft, fraud and other attacks.

Recent Data Breaches vs Hacks

The best way to really understand the difference between a data breach and a data hack is by using some real-life examples. 

Data Breach: Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

One of the biggest data breaches to date involved Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. This breach involved millions of Facebook users’ personal and confidential information exposed to a third party. In this case, Cambridge Analytica didn’t try to hack into Facebook’s accounts or use fancy tools and programming to bypass security measures. Instead, they exploited a mistake in Facebook’s API to gain access.

Data Hack: Yahoo!

One of the most infamous data hacks involved Yahoo! Back in 2014, all of the company’s three billion user accounts were compromised. This hack exposed the users’ names, dates of birth, email addresses, passwords, and security questions. This information was accessed through an attack on security measures and not exploiting an existing vulnerability.

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Data Breach: Under Armour MyFitnessPal

In this data breach, more than 150 million MyFitnessPal users’ details were exposed due to a vulnerability within the app. The details that were leaked included usernames, email addresses and scrambled passwords.

Data Hack: Marriott International

In 2018 Marriott International revealed that cybercriminals had hacked their accounts, and the data of approximately 500 million users had been stolen. This information included personal details such as names, email addresses, telephone numbers, and other information such as passport numbers, travel information, and loyalty club numbers.

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What Happens To Your Data Once It’s Leaked?

Unfortunately, when your data is leaked, it doesn’t just vanish into the hidden corners of the internet. Rather, it makes its way to the dark side of the internet, the side we all like to believe doesn’t exist, at least for us. Here it is neatly packaged and sold on forums to the highest bidder across the reaches of the internet.

Following one of the largest breaches where a major US credit bureau, Equifax, had the data of 140 million people leaked, the security company Bitglass set out to see what happens to data once it’s been leaked. 

Bitglass simulated a data leak from a fictitious bank. In this scenario, an employee made a mistake that leaked a corporate document containing 1500 employees’ accounts. This false information leaked by Bitglass was marked so that they could track the progress across the internet. 

The results of this experiment were astounding. Within days of the ‘leak’, that data had spread to more than 20 countries across different continents. 10% of the new owners attempted to log in to Google services with the stolen passwords. In the first week since the release, intruders made an average of five attempts daily to get into the fake bank’s portal. 

This just supports the fact that personal and corporate data is a high commodity amongst cyber crooks and criminals.

How To Protect Yourself Once Your Data Is Leaked?

Knowing how to protect yourself if your data has been leaked is just as important as knowing how to protect yourself before an attack happens. Here are a few ways to protect yourself after learning of a data breach.

Monitor Your Accounts

Many cybercriminals are interested in personal data to gain access to credit cards and other financial information. With this information, they can proceed to use the information to make purchases, take out loans in your name, etc. Once you hear that your data has been leaked, make sure to check your bank statements daily for any strange transactions. Don’t just expect large amounts. Often these transactions can be smaller, like $10 here and $30 there.

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Enable Two-Factor Authentication

Make sure to enable two-factor authentication for any financial transactions. By enabling this feature, each time a transaction is made, you will receive a code sent to your cell phone number or email address which you’ll need to confirm before the transaction goes through.

Freeze Your Accounts

If you hear about any data leaks containing personal or financial information, proceed to freeze your accounts. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to use the account. It just means that you (or anyone pretending to be you) won’t be able to apply for loans or credit cards using your details.

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Other Measures

There are also other measures that you can use to protect yourself. One of these includes using a proxy service to protect your identity and IP address online. You can also use sites like haveibeenpwned to check if your data has been leaked anywhere. Finally, if you are concerned that your data leak can have serious consequences, you can also use additional fraud protection services.

Final Thoughts

Data breaches can be serious and have negative consequences for all involved. However, breaches and leaks are becoming more common. As such, it’s important to know where your data goes when it’s leaked. It’s also critical to know how to protect yourself by using different measures such as two-factor authentication, a proxy service, and freezing your account.

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