Every time people create online accounts and hand over their personal information. Companies are responsible for ensuring information under their care is protected at all costs. However, that’s not always the case. Instances of people’s username and passwords ending up on the dark web is on the rise. Similarly, there are systems that notify people whenever their data, such as passwords are compromised triggering what is a data leak dilemma.
What Does It Mean When Your Password Appears in a Data Leak?
Whenever a password ends up in a data leak, it puts an account or accounts that use the same password at a high risk of compromise. If hackers gain access to the password, they can use it to gain access and steal any valuable data or information to propagate identity theft or criminal activities.
Organizations face hefty fines and serious legal implications whenever they fail to offer ample security and protection to people’s data.
How to check if your password has been leaked
Passwords are the first line of defense in any account, as they help prevent any unauthorized access. Most devices and operating systems come with built-in tools that one can use to find out if their passwords have leaked online in case of a data breach. For instance, Chrome users can leverage Google’s Password checkup tool to find if their passwords have been compromised anywhere. The checkup tool lists all passwords that Google recommends changing in case of a leak
Have I been pwned is another free tool created by Microsoft cybersecurity whizz Troy Hunt to check if passwords or phone numbers have been leaked online
4 Tips to Protect Yourself against Data Leaks
Strong passwords: Using strong and complex passwords that nobody or a system can easily guess is vital. The passwords should include special characters and numbers to make them complex. In addition, it is important to use different passwords for different accounts
Multifactor authentication: Multifactor authentication enables access to any account when two or more pieces of evidence are completed. In this case, a password leak may not be enough to cause a data leak
Update software: Regular software updates of commonly used devices like phones software and router is important to take advantage of the latest security patches designed to prevent cyberattacks
Set up account alerts: setting up alerts in case of account logins is vital to ensure you are always in the know in case someone tries to access the account
What to Do if Your Password Has Been Leaked
The first recommended action in case a password is leaked is to change it and any other accounts protected by it. By changing the passwords, one can limit the damage. Similarly, it would be wise to enable two-factor authentication after creating a new password after the leak. The two-factor authentication will make it difficult for hackers to gain access by simply using leaked passwords.
How Do Data Leaks Happen?
Most data leaks occur due to internal problems whereby staffers fail to protect the data or information in their domain.
Weak Security Practices
Weak security practices, such as outdated systems and misconfigured infrastructure, only increase the risk of data leaks. A small mistake by a staffer can result in information being shared with unauthorized persons unknowingly.
Insider threats arise from negligent or malicious employees or former employees with inside information. Because they know cybersecurity practices and access to sensitive data, they can hand it over to unscrupulous people for financial benefit or sabotage.
Unsecure Network Connections
Hackers take advantage of insecure networks to dupe staffers and employees into sharing information, thinking they are sharing it with fellow staffers. In this case, a hacker can masquerade and request for information only to use it for criminal activities.
What steps can you take? Preventing data leaks
Step 1: monitor network access: Monitoring makes it easy to identify suspicious activity or vulnerabilities that can cause a leak.
Step 2: Limit access: Access to sensitive data should be limited and protected with security policies. Limiting access limits, the prospects of employees leaking it knowingly or unknowingly.
Step 3: Implement data loss prevention software: A data loss prevention software leverages advanced technology to ensure sensitive data is not shared, misused or exposed.
Step 4: Encrypt data: Encrypting data makes it difficult for hackers to exploit data in case of a data breach. Encryption should be used alongside all the other methods to protect data.