A major data breach has happened in a nationwide chain of supermarkets. Credit and debit card information has been stolen and your financial information is at risk. If you are a customer of the above chain, you are advised to monitor your transactions and contact your financial institutions should you notice any suspicious activity on your account.
It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Sadly, security data breaches are becoming more and more frequent. Still, as they happen, they’re big news and customers whose information have been compromised are often looking to point a finger at someone. As a financial institution, we completely understand. If you have been wronged, there’s usually someone to blame but it may not be who you think it is.
What is a data breach?
A data security breach occurs when a criminal has accessed and has viewed or stolen sensitive or protected information. This could be done either physically (for example by accessing local files on a computer or accessing hard copy files) or remotely by bypassing network security systems. Nowadays, hacking into network security systems is the most common method.
How does a data breach occur?
The most common tactics used by criminals include:
- Criminals steal access credentials
- Criminals crack weak credentials
- Criminals find vulnerabilities in a security network
- Criminals install malware on a device within a security network
- Criminals infect a device within a security network with a virus
Can you spot a pattern here?
Who is responsible?
Regardless of the chosen method, it is the CRIMINALS who illegally obtain your information via the merchant (for example Walmart, Burger King or Home Depot) you use. They are the ones who commit a crime and make a profit from it.
The merchants are not guilty. However, it IS the negligence or system weakness on their part that made the data breach possible. In that sense, they might be held responsible.
How can you protect yourself after a breach?
The reality is that once there is a security breach on a merchant’s network, you are at risk of being affected. At this point, the best way to protect yourself is to closely monitor your accounts and report any fraudulent activity as soon as possible. To do this well, we advise you to utilize account alerts which you can easily set up via your HTFFFCU Online Banking dashboard.
Even though you are limited in what you can do AFTER a breach, there are some options to keep your information secure from the get go. The best practices include:
- Using a credit card rather than a debit card. If the money has been stolen, there is no immediate financial hit while you attempt to sort things out.
- Paying cash rather than swiping any card.
- Using Apple Pay or Google Pay rather than swiping your card.
Do you have any other tips? Let us know!