Donuts, Marriott stays and stamps – these are a few of my favorite things. Yeah, that didn’t work as well as I had hoped…
Any idea what these three things have in common? If you were to guess a data breach, then you’d be 100% correct! In the past two weeks:
- Dunkin’ reported that third parties may have accessed information for members of the DD Perks program
- The United States Postal Service reported that a flaw in their website exposed data on 60 million users
- And the big one of the week, Marriott reported that information on 500 million members of their Starwood Preferred Guest program was exposed – since 2014
If you are like me, this feels a bit like Chevy Chase driving in London: “Hey kids, there’s Big Ben, and there’s Parliament…again”. Every week, every month seems to bring a new set of data breaches. Here are some recommendations for things you can do to better protect yourself:
Use Unique Logins and Passwords
We’ve said this a million times (really), don’t use the same logins and passwords for all your online services. In some data breach scenarios, the chief goal of the attackers is to get credential information. The Dunkin’ breach is a fitting example of that; the exposure of your coffee and donut habit is minimal, but if you use the same password for other critical logins, your exposure is significantly higher.
Use Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is another option we talk about (a lot). MFA is something you should use for any critical online services such as email and online banking. For more information on MFA, check out this post.
Know What Data You’re Really Sharing and Who You’re Sharing it With
Lastly, as consumers we have little control over who or what will be breached next. So, it is up to us as individuals to choose where and with whom we share our information. Does the benefit we get from providing our personal data outweigh the potential risks if our information is compromised? Are we signing up (and signing away) for a service that we really need? These are the critical questions we all need to ask anytime we share our personal information on the Internet.
With our heavy reliance on Internet systems (more Amazon shopping anyone?), going cold turkey and walking away just isn’t possible. We all need to take the necessary steps to protect our information and keep a watchful eye out for new threats as they emerge.