The cybersecurity community and major media have largely concurred on the prediction that cyber-crime damages will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion just a year ago. This represents the greatest transfer of economic wealth in history, risks the incentives for innovation and investment, and will be more profitable than the global trade of all major illegal drugs combined.
Hackers have exposed the personal information of 110 million Americans (roughly half of the nation's adults) in the last few years. That massive number is even more concerning by the amount of hacked accounts, up to 432 million.
In the unfortunate event that your personal information is compromised online, here are some things you can do right away to rectify the situation:
1. Change your passwords. In a situation where an account of yours is hacked, the first thing to do is to change your passwords, and lock the hackers out of your account right away. As for more sensitive information such as credit accounts or bank profiles online, the best thing to do is contact the bank right away, and follow their security measures.
2. Isolate the issue. If a computer is infected with hacker software or a virus, allowing them to access your information, the best thing to do is find out which computer it is if you have more than one, and get rid of the infection as soon as possible. If it’s a work computer, contact your IT department, or if the machine is at home, then contact a trusted tech support service that can help you service your computer.
3. Alert others. If your system is one that gives access to other people’s information, such as a company with multiple accounts, containing people’s sensitive financial or personal info, then the best thing to do is alert those people right away that passwords and logins need to be changed immediately.
4. Document the event. Make notes of the data breach, and include actions taken to resolve it. This will inform any future upgrades to security issues, and help plan and deal with any potential future hacks.
5. Credit Freeze. If your identity is stolen and hackers have access to your credit information, the results can be costly and can take years to recover from. Until the level of compromise is understood, it might be wise to put a hold on your credit file until the situation is fully resolved.
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