What Is a Data Breach and How to Keep Your Personal Information Safe

By now, you have probably heard quite a bit of news about data breaches that have occurred throughout the world over the last several years.


While not all of the breaches will affect you, it is important to be aware that if your information is stored on a business’s system and they’re ever breached, hackers might steal your data.


Being aware of the risks of data breaches and understanding the types of data breaches and how to prevent them is wise. Keep reading to learn more.


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What Is a Data Breach?


A data breach occurs when a hacker gets into confidential and private information to steal that info and misuse it.


However, a breach might also occur by accident if the information is released when it isn’t supposed to be.


There are different types of data breaches. For example, an attack might come in ransomware, or someone might physically steal personal information from a system.


Also, phishing scams are designed to fool people into giving away their personal information. So, it is important to be vigilant when it comes to protecting yourself from all angles.


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What Are the Types of Data Breaches That Have Made Headlines?


Data breaches can affect individuals and businesses, large and small. And when a data breach targets a large organization, millions of people can be affected.


Using the internet isn’t the only way that you could be at risk of a data breach.


If you have a bank account, credit cards, shopping accounts, etc., you might end up finding out that the companies holding those accounts were breached by hackers, putting your personal information at risk.


To put things in perspective, here are some of the biggest data breaches that made headlines in the last several years. As you will see below, a variety of organizations, including social media platforms, can be impacted:


  • In 2021, LinkedIn suffered a data breach that impacted 700 million users, or over 90% of the social network’s user base. Cybersecurity found the users’ data on a dark web forum.

  • In 2019, more than 500 million Facebook users were affected by a data breach that exposed their information. Information like phone numbers and account names was compromised. 

  • In 2018, the exercise app known as MyFitnessPal was breached. This resulted in a lot of information, from IP addresses to usernames and passwords, being exposed, and roughly 150 million accounts were affected.

  • In 2017, more than 100 million people were affected when the credit reporting agency known as Equifax suffered a data breach. Sensitive information like driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personally identifiable information were exposed as a result.

  • In 2013, a whopping 3 billion user accounts were impacted when Yahoo was breached.


It’s clear that businesses of all types, across all industries, can be attacked by hackers and can experience data breaches. Therefore, businesses and consumers need to remain vigilant about keeping themselves safe against these attacks.


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What Are the Consequences of Data Breaches?


A data breach can result in a lot of problems. Not only does it put people’s personal details at risk, potentially leading to issues like identity theft, but a breach can also cause financial loss.


It can ruin an organization’s reputation if its system is breached because customers may not trust them as much in the future. Plus, a company that is breached might even be sued.


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How to Prevent Data Breaches


While you can’t control what large companies are doing to prevent data breaches, you can only hope that organizations like banks, businesses, and medical facilities are doing everything they can to keep your personal details as secure as possible.


You can do things at home to help prevent these breaches on your own computers and devices. For example, you can install high-quality antivirus software and firewall, and you can also regularly scan your computer for malware.


Plus, being careful about clicking links in emails to avoid falling for phishing scams can protect you against hackers that would gladly steal your information.


By limiting the amount of information about yourself that’s out there, you can also rest easier. So, perform a Google search using your name to see where your details are on display.


For instance, you might be surprised to find that your personal info is on Spokeo. Thankfully, you can follow Spokeo opt-out instructions to help prevent this information from being stolen and misused.


You might discover that it’s easy to get data on you by visiting people search sites like PeopleFinders, in which case you’d want to go to the PeopleFinders opt-out page to have your info removed from that site.


Also, Radaris is another website that might be hosting a lot of your personal details, so looking for Radaris opt-out instructions is also wise.


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Be Sure to Protect Yourself!


Bottom line: data breaches are a real threat that you should take seriously. Protect yourself by being aware of the companies, websites, and platforms that have your personal information and by taking steps to limit who has your details. 


About Courtney Schutter

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Courtney is a blogger who focuses on ADHD wellness, parenting, and women's lifestyle content. She is a single mother who enjoys music, painting, writing, and hiking in her beautiful home state of Georgia.

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