As 2019 ends, it will wrap up as one of the worst years for cybercrime in recent memory. Reports reveal there were more than 3,800 data breaches within the first six months of the year, and some major cases leaked more than 3.2 billion customer records. These numbers are more than double 2018’s entire log of security breaches.
This recent uptick in cybercrime has also led to a much higher demand for cyber security professionals. Unsurprisingly, cyber security is currently one of the fastest-growing IT professions. From governments and financial institutions, to healthcare organizations and businesses — industries everywhere now recognize the importance of dedicated cyber security departments to prevent data breaches.
The cyber security landscape continues to get more precarious. Both companies and individuals should take these incidents as a stern warning that attacks can happen to anyone at any time.
Here are five lessons we can learn about how to prevent a data breach from some of the worst of 2019.
Encrypt your data
End-to-end encryption is a system of communication where only the communicative parties can read the messages. Unfortunately, Earl Enterprise didn’t have this.
Last April, the parent company of the Buca di Beppo restaurant chains announced that malware had infiltrated their point-of-sale systems and successfully stolen sensitive information such as credit card numbers and cardholder names. This wasn’t the only major restaurant data breach in 2018, but it was one that could have been avoided.
Companies should always have their data encrypted, especially for payment processes to prevent a data breach from third parties. Encryption is often one of the most basic securities strategies to avoid data breaches, but it can also be frequently overlooked.
Have a disposable email
Valentine’s Day wasn’t so lovely for the users of dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, as they received a mass email that their personal data had been “acquired by an unauthorized party.”
On top of that, users also received news that even more of their data may have been stolen. This issue is undoubtedly the company’s fault, but for websites and applications that require sensitive information, don’t use your primary email account. Create an additional, disposable account for less formal matters such as dating apps to avoid issues like this one.
Don’t over-share on social media
By now, we all know that Facebook is a constant source of data leaks and security failures, and this recent incident in April was no exception. Data breach hunters found two Amazon cloud servers with over 540 million Facebook-related records that have been collected by unsecured third-party companies. While this is also Facebook’s fault, users should know better by now and be extra mindful about the information they share online.
Create strong passwords
One of the most careless things you can do is make a password that’s easily identifiable. For example, never make a password something like your birthday. But something that’s even less advisable to prevent a data breach is to not use a password at all.
Earlier this year, 24 million mortgage and loan documents from major American lenders were leaked to the public. Information such as loan agreements, amortization schedules. names, addresses and Social Security numbers were leaked.
The reason? Their online server had no password, which allowed virtually anyone access to said documents. Again, it’s a simple task that should never, ever be taken for granted.
Use a VPN on public Wi-Fi
A virtual private network (VPN) can keep your data protected from unwanted access from other users on the same public network in places like restaurants, malls and hotels. A VPN is just one way to protect against a data breach, such as the one on a hotel Wi-Fi connection to steal sensitive data. Many of the industry’s major players reported breaches, including Hilton, InterContinental and Hyatt.
As more people rely on technology to go about their daily lives, the threat of cybercrime will only continue to escalate. Stay updated, find out what your affiliated companies are doing to prevent a data breach and educate yourself on how these crimes can take form.