We’ve all seen that headline before: ‘X company suffered a data breach, 5 million customers’ personal data was stolen. It sounds bad but it probably doesn’t affect you so you decide to click on that story about Boris Johnson’s new duck pond instead. But it turns out, you have almost definitely had your data leaked online at some point in time.

Just last week the personal details of 533 million Facebook accounts were leaked. It is even rumored to have included Mark Zuckerberg’s mobile phone number being posted online! If you find it, please send him a text wishing him well for us.

What is a data breach?

When it comes to the internet most of us are pretty free about the information we share. We put our trust in companies like Facebook and LinkedIn to keep our data safe but sometimes it doesn’t work out as well as we might think.

A data breach is when hackers gain access to a company’s internal network and leak customers information. This might include email addresses, passwords, street addresses, credit card numbers and much much more. So the next time you tell somebody you have nothing to hide. Think again.

Sometimes this information is sold on the dark web. Other times hackers are able to gather enough passwords to run a scan of the different variations to find ways to guess likely passwords in the future.

New regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have been introduced as a way to make companies more accountable for keeping your data safe. Yes, we know. The name isn’t exactly tantilising is it? But what it basically does is allows data protection agencies some power to be able to punish companies that have their customers data leaked. On the surface that all sounds well and good. But in practise the size of fines they can dish out are so small they don’t even make a dent in a big company’s budget.

How can a data breach affect you?

Chances are you’ve had your data stolen countless times and nothing came of it. This can give the false impression that they aren’t all that big a deal. But when they do affect you, trust us, you will know. What’s more, the companies you put faith in to keep your data safe break that pledge every time their network is compromised.

What’s more, lots of people use the same password for everything. If their password is leaked for one platform that means the hackers now have a strong chance of accessing everything they use online. So yes, that means if they have your Facebook password, they could consequently have access to your bank account too!

Facts about data breaches

To give you an idea of just how many data leaks happen and what they cost each year, here are some facts about data breaches in the UK alone.

  1. Up to 88% of UK companies have suffered breaches in the last 12 months.
  2. One small business in the UK is successfully hacked every 19 seconds.
  3. 37% of UK companies have reported a data breach incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the past 12 months.

How to protect your data online

Most of the time this will be out of your hands. It is up to the companies to keep your data safe. So really, we should be making sure they know this matters to us and support regulations such as GDPR to keep them in check.

However, from a smaller scale side of things, it never hurts to be cautious about what data you share on platforms. If you receive a notice about a data breach, call the company to confirm that it’s legitimate. Make sure to use a number you know to be valid rather than a number that may be listed on the notice (it could be a scam). 

Also you can download our free app today and use the hack check feature to see if any account linked to your phone number has been involved in a data breach. We are on Android and iPhone. It is time to be cyber safe!

Don’t forget we are now on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram! Be sure to follow us for security tips and all the latest privacy news.