Reduce Your Impact from Security Breaches

No matter how secure you believe your healthcare provider, bank, home system, etc. are, you (more like your personal and sensitive information) will somehow be involved in a security breach.  Headlines over the past 5 years show companies like Target, JP Morgan Chase, Ebay, Anthem…losing data of millions to cyber attackers.

Below are some key steps to reduce your impact when security breaches happen.

1.    Use a password safe. If you use the same password for all of your accounts, a compromise to any one of those accounts leave your other accounts vulnerable and open for access.  Has your email or password been compromised?  Check with the list of sites and see.  Now if you were a user of any sites that were compromised, that one password you used for your other accounts need to be changed.  What a chore!  PasswordSafe, 1Password and LastPass are good providers of features and protection that will add security to your information when the service you used is compromised.

2.    Considering placing a credit freeze on all three reporting agencies. This will make sure nothing happens—even viewing your credit info—without your consent.

3.    Never use an ATM card outside of an ATM.   If money is lost from ATM accounts, you lack the leverage you have with credit card companies.  Yes, banks are getting better at reversing a fraudulent change within 3-5 business days but then the cash is removed from your account for 3-5 business days.  In addition, rather than just removing fraudulent charges, you will be left arguing over cash amounts with your bank.

4.    Run your credit report every year. By federal law, you are entitled to a free annual credit report from all three credit bureau.  Don’t just request it once a year.  Equifax, Experian or Transunion all update each other so every four months request it from one of the credit bureau and rotate.  It’s easier than you think to miss suspicious charges throughout the year. Make sure these are reviewed and understood thoroughly.  Start your request now.

5.    Review your credit card and bank statements regularly (monthly at the least). Don’t depend on the institute to catch all fraudulent charges.  You are the best person to readily know whether the activities are legitimate.

6.    Use of encryption. Before giving or sending your sensitive information, ask yourself how is the information getting electronically stored or transmitted.  If you’re providing it via a website, be sure that the site is using https.  If you are providing it via email, ask yourself how are you encrypting it and just don’t send it without protecting your data.

7.    Request copies of your health records on a yearly basis. With the HITECH Act, medical providers are to exchange information (see health information exchange ).  After breaches like the Anthem one, your medical details can be mixed up and the integrity of your health history (and allergies) needs to be questioned. Incorrect information in your record can lead to incorrect emergency treatment that can be harmful or fatal. Obtain your records through the Blue-button.