Stay secure: 5 Tips to guard you against data breaches

February 21st · 7 min read

Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|
Rotem Tal - Senior Cybersecurity Expert |Writer & Editor|
Every hour of every day, hackers break into systems, sites, platforms, and even personal computers. Fun fact, did you know that there are more than 5,000 data breaches a month? Once hackers are in, they steal and sell data on the dark web. This might sound like a trailer for a new Netflix horror movie, but believe me, data breaches do exist, and burying your head in the sand won’t keep you protected from them. In this blog, we delve into data breaches, explore their causes, and ways to mitigate the risks. Let’s dive in.

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What’s a data breach?

Simply put, a data breach happens when an unauthorized person accesses someone else’s private data. That data is then leaked online and sold on the dark web for money. Stealing data can be as simple as copying a file from someone’s desktop or as complex as stealing millions of personal records from a company’s server. The most common data breaches are caused by: phishing attacks, ransomware , keylogging , malware , and, sadly the list goes on.
Data breach

So what’s a data leak? The risk of data breaches are external, meaning your information is jeopardized by an outside source. On the other hand data leaks can occur in 2 ways. There was a breach, and your data has been leaked and therefore exposed online. When you, or someone else, unintentionally leaks your data online. For example, you accidentally send a spreadsheet of names and addresses to an entire mailing list.

A new type of cybercrime that’s very popular right now is formjacking. This is when a cyber criminal adds a piece of code to a checkout form on a website. This gives them access to all the credit card information that unsuspecting customers type in the form. Fun fact #2, ready for it? Formjacking attacks happen on around 4,800 websites every month! Easy, quick, and devastating. Run a free security scan and see how safe your data is.

Guardio is a Chrome extension that monitors suspicious activity and blocks hackers from stealing your data.

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Guardio Keeps You Safe on the Web

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Over one million people use Guardio to keep themselves safe as they browse the web. It’s rated “Excellent” on TrustPilot with 4.5 stars from 1,552 reviews.

What happens if my data is leaked?

Hackers are full-time criminals who steal people's information for a living. Sometimes there’s a political or social motivation for an attack, but most of the time, cybercrime is purely a way of making money. And sadly, it’s a seriously thriving industry. Some hackers steal data so they can sell it to other criminals, but most put it up for sale on the dark web .

A well-used Facebook account (email and password credentials), for example, sells for around $70. If you’re thinking, why would someone want my Facebook account? All I have on there are embarrassing pictures, and less then 100 friends. Think again, the intrinsic value of hacking your credentials isn’t only accessing Facebook, but all the other accounts, like, Spotify, and Tinder, that you log into via Facebook. After they purchase your Facebook credentials they can easily access those accounts as well. And let’s be honest, there’s a good chance you’re using your Facebook password for other online accounts too, right? And what about all your photos, check-ins, flights, and opinions? Criminals can quickly see what kind of lifestyle you enjoy, who your friends and family are, and use this information to run phishing scams or fraud. Anyone that has your personal data is in a better position to trick you into believing they’re legitimate.

Unfortunately, it gets worse… A criminal with sensitive information like your social security number, date of birth, and financial information like bank account number, can do just about anything. They can take out loans in your name, use or duplicate your credit cards, steal medical records and sell them if they’re clean, or blackmail you if not. They can even steal your actual identity and sell it to someone else who wants to “disappear.” Think your data may have been leaked?

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How do data breaches happen?

Because our information is scattered across the internet, it’s easier for hackers to take advantage of security flaws. All those social media platforms you're signed into, your bank, the hospital you visited, and even that late-night pizza you ordered are gateways for cybercriminals to steal your information.

It’s not going to happen to me, though..

No? Chances are it already has, but you just don’t know about it. What if we told you that in 2021, the personal data of 533 million Facebook users were posted online in a hacker’s forum? Or that more than 700 million LinkedIn profiles email addresses and phone numbers were found on the dark web? Along with the credential of 500,000 Zoom users…?
Just like Chris Rock didn’t see Will Smith’s slap coming at him in the 2022 Oscars, Twitter, Microsoft, and American Airlines , weren’t expecting to be blind sided by huge data breaches either. So yes, bad things can happen, to comedians trying to mess with the Smith’s and even to large corporations that have teams working around the clock to protect them from cybercrime.

In 2023, it’s been reported that there’s a cyber attack somewhere every 39 seconds seconds. And if you consider that the average person uses their email address to open around 130 online accounts, well that’s a whole lot of data points waiting to be exploited…

On average, it takes 287 days to resolve a data breach.

IBM research suggests that the average life cycle of a data breach is 287 days. On average it takes organizations 212 days to even realize they’ve been hacked, and then another 75 days to deal with the fallout. That gives criminals a 9-month head start to use your credit cards or sell your information.

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Prevent data breaches

Although the bad guys AKA cyber criminals are out to steal your data, don’t worry, there are several ways to keep your information secure. Here’s a list of 5 tips to keep you protected online — Spoiler alert, it involves having a cybersecurity tool installed on your browser.

1. Protect your passwords

If you’ve been using the same passwords for, well, every account you have, it’s probably best to start by changing those up right away. The rule of thumb is to use a different password for each account and not use standard information that’s easy to figure out. Yes, that includes your pet's name and your birthday! Using a password manager is another great way to securely store and protect your passwords. These handy tools take away the hassle of trying to remember multiple passwords for different online accounts. Plus, they offer an added layer of security by generating strong, random passwords for you and automatically filling them in when needed. This means you can say goodbye to weak or easily guessable passwords that put your accounts at risk. With a password manager, you can rest easy knowing that your online security is in good hands.

2. Use two-factor authentication (2FA)

2FA is an incredible leap in the world of cybersecurity. It’s an advanced protocol that requires more than just a single password to access your online accounts. It's like a secret handshake known only to you and your online profiles. This added layer of protection requires you to present two pieces of identity to access your account. It could be in the form of an extra password, a code sent to you via SMS, or even your fingerprint. Nowadays a lot of financial and government websites encourage using 2FA and we highly recommend using this feature to protect your accounts as well.

3. Keep your eyes open for fraud

Monitor your online banking for suspicious transactions and always make sure that your purchases make sense. If you were charged for a massage in Indonesia while you were actually in Idaho, you’ll know something fishy is going on. Contact your credit card provider immediately, they’ll be able to sort things out for you. If you get an email claiming a data breach has occurred in one of your accounts, verify the email is legit. Scammers are really good at forging other companies' credentials and trying to pass off as: Amazon, Google, USPS, or other known government organizations . Ensure not to give away any personal information before verifying that they are truly who they claim they are.

4. Set up account alerts

While getting a million notifications from Instagram can be distracting, setting up alerts for your bank, email, and other personal accounts can be helpful. When a data breach happens, the most effective defense is speed. The sooner you know about it, and the sooner you act, the more chance you have of preventing your identity from being stolen. So being notified if a fishy purchase is made, or that your account has been accessed from a suspicious location could be the perfect way to stop a cybercriminal before they can do any damage.

5. Advanced cybersecurity tools

In today's society, where online interactions have become a vital part of our lives, it’s crucial to prioritize the security of our information. As cybercriminals continue to advance their techniques, it has become essential to rely on effective online security tools.

Guardio for example, warns you whenever you’re about to open a website or download a file designed to damage your computer or security. It protects you from all kinds of scams like crypto, special offers, tech support, phishing, random access trojan attacks, adware , malware, and more.

Stay protected with Guardio

Guardio also constantly searches malicious sites for your information and email address. It scours the dark web for your data and alerts you if it shows up. This means you’re not waiting 287 days for a company to say “Oops, we lost your data”. Instead of relying on these companies, to realize they’ve been hacked Guardio takes a proactive approach and notifies you within hours if your data has been leaked.

This gives you the crucial time you need to change your passwords, notify your credit card provider, and update any other data involved - before criminals can use it.

Install Guardio on your browser and check how it works with a no-risk-free trial. Start your online protection now by running a free security scan to see if your data is already at risk.

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