You've had a data breach, now what?

Tim Watters |

You've had a data breach, now what?

Unfortunately, many of our clients have suffered data breaches over the last couple of years. I've come up with several suggestions to help you deal with this:

The first thing you must decide is whether you want to freeze your credit or whether you want to sign up for a service like LifeLock. Services like LifeLock can monitor your credit, but the most secure option is to freeze your credit. If you go to LifeLock, there are several versions of LifeLock. If you have been hacked, I would probably go with the most expansive offerring. If you have any questions on it, please reach out to our office. We'll be happy to go over it with you further.

If you freeze your credit, the important thing to remember is that that's the nuclear option. In other words, if you freeze your credit, you must remember that you froze your credit, because it can be an inconvenience and it can stop you from doing certain transactions. You must unfreeze your credit if you want to open a new account, buy a car, etc.

It is also critical to start changing passwords. One of the most important places to change your password would be with your e-mail provider. Many people don't realize that they have an e-mail password because you do. That's the first place to go so that someone doesn't get control over your e-mail and cause problems for both you and friends and family.

It's important to start using a password vault, like LastPass. The advantage that this offer is that you can create robust, hard-to-break passwords using their password generator, and then start to gradually change all of your passwords to those harder passwords for e-mail, banking sites and virtually anywhere that you care about.

It's also important to make sure that you are careful about how you view emails that come into you. I recommend that you have a reading pane on your e-mail so you can view the e-mail before you open it. One of the most important things to do is to look at who the e-mail is from. It always shows in the top corner what the e-mail address is of whoever sent you an e-mail. If the e-mail came from me, then you should be able to look up above and see that my e-mail address is displayed next to my name. Quite often spam or Phishing emails are not set up that way. They often have a completely different e-mail address that is different than the sender. For example, I have gotten an email telling me that my Outlook Email mailbox is full several times. Yet, the email address of the sender is not Outlook or Microsoft. That is spam.

It's also an important time for you to make sure that you have a good virus scan program to screen out viruses that could infect your computer and to use a firewall. There are many vendors who do this. Norton is probably one of the most popular ones. The most important thing with any of them is to make sure that you have it set up where it automatically updates on a regular basis. Often, viruses will hit you that have just come out. Thus, getting the most recent update is critically important.

Finally, updates for your operating system come to you fairly frequently. Make sure you say yes to those updates and load them as quickly as possible. Often those updates are there to close holes in their system where data breaches have already happened.

I'm sorry to see you're going through this but remember you're not alone. Unfortunately, many people have been snared the same way. If I can be of any further assistance regarding this, please feel free to call my office.