Sharing our personal information is a fact of life nowadays. Very few of us would be willing to sacrifice the convenience of purchasing goods and signing up for services online. However, as most of us are aware, there are risks when entrusting organisations to safely process and store our data.

We may tend to believe that bigger companies and organisations will have advanced security provision, meaning our data is in safe hands. However, some of the best-publicised cyber attacks have involved multi-national corporations, with a seemingly robust infrastructure. The fact is: hackers like a challenge.

Why do hackers hack?

Sometimes (if you’re lucky) it’s just to prove that they can. Some hackers get a thrill from showing that they have the wherewithal to break through an organisation’s defences. The intention may just be to cause havoc and sit back and watch as the chaos unfolds – a disgruntled ex employee perhaps?

Of far greater concern are the hackers that target and steal personal data, in order to commit further crime. This was the situation millions of people found themselves in last year alone, as news broke of an organisation – one that held their personal data – being hacked.

A perfect replica

Identity theft is one of the major reasons that cyber criminals steal data. Once they have your personal details and credit card number, they can use them for fraudulent purposes (posing as you), or sell them on the dark web for others to do likewise.

This is why airlines and hotel chains are popular targets; in addition to the usual details, they also hold their customers’ passport numbers. Marriott Starwood hotels, British Airways & Cathay Pacific Airways were all targets of a major security breach in 2018.

So what now?

There’s not much you can do to sure-up a multinational’s security system, but if you suspect your data had been caught up in a breach, it’s what you do next that counts. While the organisation is busy writing reassuring press releases and limiting damage to their reputation, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • If you suspect your card details have been compromised, contact your bank immediately
  • If the organisation held your passport number, cancel it via the passport office
  • Change the password for any online accounts you have used in connection with that organisation, and any other accounts with the same password
  • If you suspect your computer or device have been compromised, disconnect it from the internet immediately and run anti-virus software
  • If you suspect your identity has been stolen, register with and / or the police if you have been the victim of fraud.

Above all, stay calm. Remember that cyber criminals rely heavily on tricking people into divulging the information they need – and there’s never a better time than when someone is panicking. NEVER call a number you receive by text or email, however genuine it may seem. Find the numbers you need (bank, building society, credit card provider etc.) by going to their main website.

Staying safe in the first place

Here’s a quick reminder of the 5 golden rules you should follow, to protect your security:

  1. Use unique passwords on all accounts (a password manager can help with this)
  2. Use multifactor authentication to login (particularly for social media and email accounts)
  3. Install robust antimalware on your computer. Hint: if its free, its probably not good enough!
  4. Only enter personal information via genuine websites that you browse to – never via links in unsolicited texts or emails
  5. Subscribe to a cyber protection service such as Dynarisk, to monitor the dark web for your personal details

To discover how we can help protect your personal data, or to attend one of our cyber security workshops, please call our Sales Team on 0330 124 3599 to find out more.