After another monumental data breach this past week from Marriott/Starwood, we were once again exposed to the real threats and realities that exist with our information held within the systems of large corporations where we spend money. Marriott has not finished identifying duplicate information in the database, but it believes it contains information on approximately 500 million guests. They believe for approximately 327 million of these guests, the information hacked included name, mailing address, phone number, email address, passport number, Starwood Preferred Guest account information, date of birth, and other pertinent information. There is still no definitive information on whether or not credit card information could be decrypted by the hackers. Class action lawsuits are already flying off the shelf.
It almost seems as if once per month we are barraged with some new data breach from large companies seeing what has happened with Equifax, Yahoo!, and now Marriott recently. Many Americans may already believe hackers have their information from one of these large breaches and as new ones continue they get into a syndrome of ‘data breach fatigue’ where you almost feel defenseless against the dark web hackers who attack these large corporate systems. So, how can you protect yourself? It’s not by giving up, but here are five actions you can take now to go on the offense as opposed to playing defense.
- Install A Password Manager– It may seem unreasonable time wise to change your passwords every 60 to 90 days which would help you have more protection on your account. Installing a password manager such as Dashlane or 1Password can help you have an ecrypted password system that would make stealing passwords extremely difficult for hackers.
- Get CyberFraud Insurance– There are several insurance companies today such as Pure Insurance who offer these types of coverage plans. These plan are designed to provide broad coverage for fraud and cybercrime, and protect you from financial loss in some cases up to $1,000,000.
- Enroll In A Cyber Protection Service– Mariott offered a free 1 year enrollment into WebWatcher which provides for fraud loss reimbursement for out of pocket expenses and access on a unlimited basis with a fraud specialist. There are many services out there today for a small monthly fee who can help monitor and track your identity and assist in fixing it should something happen with a major breach.
- Learn To Spot Phishing Schemes– When hackers steal your identity, there are many ways they can approach trying to get more of your information or your money. Most phishing schemes that come through e-mail today have the body of e-mail that appears to be extremely legitimate, but the sender e-mail address is a foreign one. It is important that you call your vendors on their 1-800 numbers before you respond to any e-mail asking for personal information.
- Log In…More Often– Many of the experts will say to freeze your credit, but I would suggest that when your Social Security number is compromised. The reality is that we need to become more vigilant about checking into our credit card, bank, and frequent miles accounts to look for suspicious and irregular activity.
Having data breach fatigue is not a reason to start looking the other way. The key to protecting yourself down the road from a breach is to put preventative measures in place today.
Ted Jenkin, CFP®, AAMS®, AWMA®, CRPC®, CMFC®, CRPS®
CEO and Founder oXYGen Financial, Inc.