A data breach is a costly and dangerous issue that all organizations must be aware of. The average cost of a data breach in 2021, for American companies, is estimated at $4.26 million, according to a report by IBM.

Taking the necessary precautions to prevent data breaches from occurring in the first place is crucial, along with putting measures in place to promptly investigate any potential threat.

71% of data breaches are due to financial motivation, as per a report by Verizon. This means that attackers will deploy ransomware to encrypt a victim's data and then demand a ransom be paid to regain access to their network and files.

In what is called a "double-extortion" tactic, the hackers will first steal confidential information and then threaten to leak it online as a way to blackmail their victim into paying the ransom.

The investigation process is a vital part of the response to understand the details of the breach, the damage caused, and what needs to be done next. This usually entails collecting information from various sources and examining evidence to get a clear picture of what happened and why.

Depending on the findings, further steps can be taken to mitigate the effects of the breach and prevent something similar from happening in the future.

How to find out if you are involved in a data breach?

Have I Been Pwned, created by security expert Troy Hunt, is a great resource to find out if your data has been compromised in any data breaches. You can use the search engine by entering your email address or phone number, and it will flag any breached records that contain your data.

The website's database is constantly updated with billions of leaked records, so you can expect to be alerted if your data is involved in a breach.

How to protect yourself in the event of a data breach?

Breaches are always a risk when using online services, but there are steps you can take to protect your data from being compromised. By taking a few simple precautionary measures, you can keep your personal information away from prying eyes and avoid falling victim to identity theft.

Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself in the event of a data breach:

1. Monitor your credit report regularly for suspicious activity

Being vigilant is key after a data breach, which is why you should pay close attention to your account activity - that goes for any and all financial accounts you have. Review your credit card statements carefully and look out for any unusual or suspicious transactions. Additionally, take advantage of your free annual credit report to keep an eye on your credit score.

2. Use strong passwords for all your online accounts

It's always best practice to keep your passwords updated and to choose strong, secure, and unique passwords for all your online accounts. In the event of a data breach, it's even more important to change your passwords to something that would be difficult for someone to guess or crack.

3. Freeze your credit

Another preventative measure you can take against identity theft, whether you've been the victim of a data breach or not, is to freeze your credit. You can do this by contacting each of the three credit bureaus -- Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

If you suspect that your payment card details, bank accounts, or other digital financial services have been compromised, call the provider immediately and ask them to freeze your cards (if they offer this feature). You must also inform your bank or financial services provider so they can be on the lookout for suspicious and fraudulent transactions.

4. Report the incident to identitytheft.gov

There are a few resources available to help you understand the situation and take appropriate steps forward. The government website identitytheft.gov is a great starting point; here, you can access a variety of tips and advice on what to do if your personal information has been lost or stolen.

Cyber security
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