In our highly connected world, personal details, online habits, and other credentials are essential information that can tell websites a lot about us. Unfortunately, our information is also vital to hackers and other malicious individuals. According to ExpressVPN’s dark web guide, information like passport scans can be worth up to 3,800 USD, while information like driver’s licenses could go for 75 USD on the dark web.
The monetary value of your data can be challenging to pinpoint, as it depends on several factors, such as the type of information collected, the demand for it, and the individual’s profile. For example, healthcare records and financial information can fetch a higher price on the black market than social media activity or browsing history. This is also because they’re a lot harder to obtain.
As the value of personal data increases, so does the risk of data breaches. Cybercriminals are continually developing sophisticated methods to gain unauthorized access to databases, steal, manipulate, or hold user data for ransom. Once in possession of this information, cybercriminals can use it for various nefarious purposes. This includes identity theft, financial fraud, or targeted phishing attacks. The consequences of data breaches go beyond financial losses. Exposure to sensitive information can lead to emotional distress, reputational damage, and a loss of trust in the affected organizations.
How to keep your data safe
Maintaining privacy should be a top priority, given the value of your data and the risks associated with data breaches. By taking proactive steps to protect your personal information, you can reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of cybercrime and safeguard your digital assets.
Here is what you can do to protect your information and privacy when you’re online:
1. Be cautious about sharing personal information online
Think twice before providing sensitive details online, particularly on social media or unsecured websites. Limit the information you share, and consider using aliases or pseudonyms where possible. Some internet users also go as far as creating burner emails to limit the emails they receive and avoid getting spam. If possible, avoid sharing information altogether if it’s not necessary.
2. Create and use strong passwords
Passwords are your first line of defense against hacking or malicious activities. To protect yourself, create complex passwords that are difficult to guess, and avoid using the same password across multiple accounts. Try using a password manager to help you keep track of them all. Many password managers will also allow you to generate strong passwords, while some will help identify if your password has been compromised.
3. Enable two-factor or multi-factor authentication
Enable two-factor (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your online accounts whenever possible to maintain privacy. 2FA and MFA are security measures designed to enhance the protection of user accounts and sensitive information by requiring multiple verification forms before granting access. These authentication methods add extra layers of security to the traditional username and password method, making it difficult for unauthorized individuals to access accounts or data.
4. Look out for phishing scams
If you’ve received an email, text message, or social media follow request from an unknown source, consider if it’s worth interacting with that information. Be careful when clicking on links or opening attachments in emails, mainly if they are from unknown sources. Cybercriminals often use phishing techniques to trick users into revealing their login credentials and personal information.
Check your online accounts, including email, social media, and banking, for suspicious activity or unauthorized access. Report any concerns to the respective service providers immediately.
5. Keep your devices and apps up to date
Regularly update your devices and software to ensure they have the latest security patches, which can help protect against known vulnerabilities. Hackers and malicious individuals have been known to exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software to obtain information about their victims.
Your data is more valuable than you may realize, and the increasing risk of data breaches highlights the importance of maintaining privacy. By taking proactive measures to protect your information, you can mitigate the potential consequences of cybercrime and ensure your digital safety.