Unless you’ve been staying offline – in which case you won’t even be reading this piece – chances are you’ve got some information stored online.
From basic ones like your name and address to something more personal like your health data, date of birth or credit card details.
It’s become so common that we sometimes don’t even think twice about keying in these bits of info whenever we start a new account.
Unfortunately, that means there’s a fair bit of data about us that can be stolen online, sometimes through no fault of our own.
Take, for example, the recent SingHealth breach in Singapore where the hackers accessed the information of 1.5 million people, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
And then there’s the Facebook fiasco earlier this year where the data of 87 million people around the world was improperly shared with British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica.
Having your data stolen is the digital equivalent of losing your wallet – and will give you an equally big headache.
As long as there is information about you available online, you are vulnerable.
The concern is, we never quite know in what way our data will be used against us down the road once it gets in the hands of hackers.
If you’ve ever had your data stolen, here are 5 things you should immediately do in order to minimise the damage:
1. Find out what was stolen
You will be informed via email, mail or text message if your data was stolen and what was likely accessed.
Is it just your login credentials or did the thieves get away with your credit card and identity card info?
Take note, however, that scammers can also take advantage of situations like these and send you a phishing email or text message to try and get your personal information.
These can look and sound like they come from the official company but are actually fraudulent.
To be safe, don’t clink on any links provided.
Just head straight to the company’s website to find out how you can get help.
2. Change your login information
Change your login credentials, such as your username and password, for the affected site.
Then log in to other sites that use the same login information and change those too.
Hackers will use the same login information across different websites to try and gain access as many people tend to reuse usernames and passwords.
3. Change your security questions
If you’ve provided the answers to several security questions, such as your mother’s maiden name, make sure to change these questions and answers as well.
If a hacker has access to that compromised information, he can reset your passwords.
4. Check your credit card accounts
If your credit card information is one of the details that has been stolen, call your bank and let them know.
You may want to be safe and ask to cancel the card and get a new one.
5. Update all your other online accounts
Use this opportunity to update all your logins and passwords for your different accounts. It’s best to use different passwords for different sites and services, so if information on one account has been compromised, it can’t be used to access other services.
You don’t have to come up with completely different passwords, just a slight variation. Consider using a passphrase. For example, your password could be “ihtsosin2018”, which stands for “I have to stop online shopping in 2018”.