Personal information ranging from email addresses to credit card numbers were compromised as a result of the five following data breaches. What do consumers need to know about protecting themselves in the future?
First, take time to understand the types of common cyber attacks.
Three common types of cyber attacks are:
Most data breaches are a result of one or more tricks.
- Malware – is a general term for software written with the intent of doing harm to data, devices or to people. Common types of malware are viruses, trojans, spyware and ransomware.
- Phishing – is when cyber criminals send emails masquerading as reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
- Password Attacks – simply put, password attacks are the process of recovering passwords from data that have been stored in or transmitted by a computer system. One of the more common approaches for a password attack, brute-force attack, is when a hacker guesses repeatedly for the password and check them against an available cryptographic hash of the password.
A combination of these attacks played a role in many of the largest data breaches in the U.S.
The five largest data breaches in the U.S.
- Equifax – This breach in 2017 was a result of attackers gaining unauthorized access to private data of an estimated 143 million Americans (or 50% of American adults). Hackers were able to do this by exploiting a vulnerability in a website application called Apache Struts. Social security numbers, driver’s licenses, and birth dates are among some of the data stolen in this breach.
- Yahoo – In 2017, Yahoo announced that data associated with at least 500 million accounts had been stolen. Three months later, Yahoo disclosed a second breach affecting more than one billion accounts.Luckily financial information was spared in this breach, but names, email addresses and passwords were all compromised.
- Target – Roughly 40 million shoppers were affected by the Target hack in 2013. Victims had their credit and debit card information stolen. Cyber attackers were able to gain access to Target’s gateway server through credentials stolen from a third-party vendor. This hack is a reminder of the importance of creating strong passwords, having the ability to store them safely and change them easily.
- Myspace – This aging tech company confirmed a breach of usernames and passwords for about 360 million accounts. Though the severity of this attack seems small compared to others on this list, more than 80% of internet users reuse the same password for all of their accounts, including financial applications. One hack can unlock access to many doors, which makes the Myspace account dangerous.
- Anthem – In February of 2015, hackers broke into Anthem’s servers and stole up to 80 million records. Anthem is the parent company of other well-known and substantially-sized providers including Blue Cross and Blue Shield. The attack began with phishing emails sent to five employees who were tricked into downloading a Trojan virus. This virus enabled the attackers to obtain passwords for accessing the unencrypted data.
The healthcare system is one of the most targeting industries for cyber attacks.
How can consumers protect themselves?
When a company’s technical infrastructure is weak, a consumer is at risk. This makes it even more important to take control of your own personal account information and use best practices to protect yourself.
One suggestion is to add two-factor authentication to all your banking and brokerage accounts. A two-factor authentication starts by generating a strong password then is further secured with an extra layer of protection, like a fingerprint or an answer to a security question.
Another suggestion is to change the passwords to your accounts regularly. As hacks continue to happen at a fast pace, it’s difficult to keep up with who and what has been compromised. To be safe, change your password often.
Train yourself to keep a close eye out for scam emails. It’s easy to fall for a phishing email, they are increasingly well done. Still, there will be red flags, like the sender’s email address or contact information that can indicate malicious intent.
Stay on top of credit monitoring. Always look for suspicious information on your credit score, a sign that your financial information has been compromised.
According to a report by Verizon Enterprise 81% of hacking-related breaches leveraged either stolen and/or weak passwords. As consumers, the best way to protect yourself is by paying special attention to your password generation.
Your first line of defense password security
EZPD is a password generation and regeneration software that keeps users protected from the ever-evolving world of cybercrime. EZPD’s proprietary algorithm ensures that no one can hack your password.
With EZPD, users can generate complex passwords that include (or exclude) special characters and numbers and can be up to 96 characters long. EZPD provides users with unique license files that unlock a customized software experience for the individual user.
Without the license file specific to your device, you cannot access your passwords. After you’ve created a unique, complex password, you can delete EZPD’s program and license file from your computer to erase tracks of your password. EZPD does not store your information or require remembering a master password to unlock, unlike most password managers. When you need to access your password again (or generate a new one) you can redownload EZPD’s program and license file from the link provided to you upon sign up.