The Latest on the Uber Data Breach and Protecting Your Info
You may have spotted the news last week that U.S. federal prosecutors brought charges against the former chief security officer of Uber. At issue was a breach that occurred in 2016, where prosecutors allege that he covered up a $100,000 payoff to the hackers responsible for the attack. The specific charges are obstructing justice and concealing a felony for the alleged cover-up.
While the breach itself is relatively old news and the company has since paid a $148 million settlement along with an agreement to regular audits of its privacy and security systems, this is a reminder that breaches happen. What’s more, it may be some time before you become aware of them, even in instances when companies move quickly, transparently, and in your best interest.
According to research we recently published, nearly three-quarters of all breaches have required public disclosure or have affected financial results, up five points from 2015. Additionally, industry studies show that it can take roughly nine month on average to identify and contain a breach. Yes, that’s more than nine months, and a lot can happen to your credit in that timeframe. Thus the onus is on us to be vigilant about our own credit.
Here’s a quick list of things you can do right now to keep on top of your credit—and that you can do on an ongoing basis as well, because that’s what it takes to keep tabs on your personal info today.
Protecting yourself from data breaches
Closely monitor your online accounts: Whether it’s your credit card statements, banking statements, or your individual accounts for services like Uber, review them closely. If you see any suspicious activity, notify the institution or service and put a freeze on your account(s) as needed. Even a small charge can indicate a bigger problem, as that means your information is out there in the wild and could be used for bigger purchases down the pike. In the event you feel your Uber account has been compromised, you can contact them via their “I think my Uber account has been hacked” page.
Update your settings: That includes your privacy settings in addition to changing your password. As far as passwords go, strong and layered passwords are best, and never reuse your credentials across different platforms. Plus, update your passwords on a regular basis. That’ll further protect your data. Using a password manager will help you keep on top of it all, while also storing your passwords securely.
Enable two-factor authentication: While a strong and unique password is a good first line of defense, enabling app-based two-factor authentication across your accounts will help your cause by providing an added layer of security.
Check your credit: Depending on where you live, there are different credit reporting agencies that keep a centralized report of all your credit activities. For example, the major agencies in the U.S. are primarily Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Likewise in the U.S., the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires these agencies to provide you with a free credit check at least once every 12 months. It’s a relatively quick process, and you might be surprised what you find—anywhere to incorrect address information to bills falsely associated with your name. Get your free credit report here from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Other nations provide similar services, such as the free credit reports for UK customers.
Freeze your credit: Freezing your credit will make it impossible for criminals to take out loans or open up new accounts in your name. To do this effectively, you will need to freeze your credit at each of the three major credit-reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian).
Consider using identity theft protection: A solution like McAfee Identify Theft Protection will help you to monitor your accounts and alert you of any suspicious activity in addition to the activities I’ve listed above. Additionally, you can use a comprehensive security solution such as McAfee Total Protection to help protect your devices and data from known vulnerabilities and emerging threats.
Be your own best defense
For all the technology we have at our fingertips, our best defense is our eyes. Keeping a lookout for fishy activity and following up with family members when unfamiliar charges show up on your accounts will help you keep your good name in good standing.
The thing is, we never know when the next data breach might hit and how long it may be until that information is discovered and finally disclosed to you. Staying on top of credit has always been important, but given all our apps, accounts, and overall exposure these days, it’s a must.