What’s the security status of my data after breaches or leaks?

With recent news stories, concerns about data security are understandable. The UK’s elections watchdog revealed a “complex cyber-attack” potentially impacting millions of voters. Additionally, personal details of Northern Ireland police officers were accidentally disclosed.

If you’re worried about data leaks or hacks, it’s important to understand your options for prevention. While cases like the accidental release of confidential details raise concerns, average individuals affected by breaches need not panic.

In the case of the cyberattack on UK voters, the Electoral Commission extended its apologies and clarified that the data it holds is limited and often public. The Information Commissioner’s Office’s risk assessment indicates that personal data on electoral registers, typically names and addresses, doesn’t inherently pose high risks.

Though data from electoral registers, combined with social media information, might identify individuals, such targeting is time-consuming and typically focuses on notable figures. Much of this information is already publicly available online, unless you opt out of the open electoral register.

For concerns about other data breaches and potential data loss, websites like “Have I Been Pwned?” can help verify if your email was part of a known breach. It’s wise to change compromised passwords, but avoid responding to emails suggesting this change. Instead, visit the respective website to update your password.

Maintaining distinct passwords for various accounts is vital. Doing so safeguards against significant fallout from hacks since attackers can’t exploit data beyond one service.

Vigilance online is crucial to preventing data loss. A recent Barclays study highlights that 87% of scams occur on tech platforms like dating apps and social media. These scams are increasing, prompting calls for tech platforms to share responsibility. Barclays CEO Matt Hammerstein emphasises the necessity of joint efforts to curb this prevalent crime, given the absence of legislative obligations for the tech sector.

Staying secure online involves simple steps such as using strong passwords, avoiding unfamiliar emails, and being cautious with unknown websites. Action Fraud, the UK’s anti-fraud reporting centre, provides further guidance on safeguarding against fraud and cybercrime.

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