How to Protect Yourself From Soaring Data Breach Crimes

A new report reveals that 2016 set an all-time high for the number of data records exposed by breaches. Don't forget these overlooked tips for staying safe.

How to Protect Yourself From Soaring Data Breach Crimes Photo by Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

Across the globe in 2016, more than 4 billion records — including sensitive medical records, website usernames and passwords, credit card information and Social Security numbers — were stolen and exposed during 4,149 reported data breaches.

Although that’s an all-time high — the previous record was 822 million records exposed in 2013 — the hacking problem is likely much worse than we even know.

Inga Goddijn, executive vice president of Risk Based Security, which issued the new data breach report, tells NBC News:

“The number of records compromised just went completely off the charts. And as staggering as they are, our numbers probably underestimate the actual criminal activity that’s taking place.”

Goddijn says businesses were the targets of more than half (55 percent) of the data breaches in 2016, although government agencies and medical institutions were also targeted by cybercriminals.

Fortunately, there are ways to fight back and protect your data. Some are well-known, such as using multiple passwords and changing them often, as well as avoiding clicking on suspicious online links.

However, others are overlooked. For example, it’s important to secure confidential documents offline as well as online. As we wrote in the story “Fear Data Breaches and ID Theft? 10 Steps to Protect Yourself“:

[T]hose papers you need to keep — generally, paperwork with original signatures or raised seals, like wills, contracts, titles and deeds — should be stored in a locked and fireproof safe in your house. Scan them to provide a backup.

Another good tip is to avoid speaking to telemarketers. Read the story linked above to find out why silence is golden.

Some people are so concerned about data theft that they pay a service to protect them from identity theft. But is that a wise idea?

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson says there are three good reasons to think twice before forking over the cash. Read more in ” “Ask Stacy: Should I Pay for Identity Theft Protection and Credit Monitoring?

Have you been the victim of a data breach or identity theft? Share your experiences below or on Facebook.

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