After negative press surrounding Facebook’s data practices broke, its stock price has taken big hits. Since the news of the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke 10 days ago, Facebook’s market value has lost about $90 billion.
Facebook isn’t the only company that has seen big losses from privacy breaches. Equifax’s recent data breach cost the company at least $4 billion. Recovering from a privacy breach requires improving data practices and storage systems, as well as restoring the confidence of customers. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute, the average data breach costs over $7 million. The Facebook scandal has really brought data security and privacy to the top of consumers’ minds, simply because of the enormous scale and notability of the platform.
Corporate Data Breaches Are Not Uncommon
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, “the number of U.S. data breaches tracked in 2017 hit a new all-time high of 1,579, up 44.7 percent over last year’s record totals of 1,091 breaches.” The fact that breaches are up is concerning as more and more consumer activity moves to the internet. Unfortunately much of the e-commerce industry is based on users blindly trusting the websites they shop on. And as more companies develop online platforms, more information will be open to hacks and other data breaches.
“The business sector was hit the hardest by hacking, with nearly 40 percent of the breached entities identifying this type of attack as the cause for the breach.” Source: ID Theft Center
Businesses at risk for hacking are not only putting themselves at risk, but also the consumers sharing their financial information. The financial impact of these breaches then falls on the company and the users who may have money stolen from them, or their credit scores impacted by identity theft.
How to Protect Your Data Online
- Change Your Settings – The default settings for many websites, including social media and e-commerce sites, often is the least protective of your privacy. Make sure you enable any settings that limit your data’s exposure.
- Use Privacy Based Extensions – There are tons of browser extensions out there for privacy purposes. Use extensions like Privacy Badger, Ghostery and Search Encrypt, that can help you avoid unsafe websites, that may track your behavior or information.
- Use Alternative Internet Tools – Rather than using tools based on their popularity, find more private alternatives for email, file storage, etc.
- Be Proactive About Privacy – Blindly accepting a site’s terms or policies is an easy way to fall victim to hacks or breaches that may leak information that you didn’t even know you were sharing.
- Use Strong Passwords – Longer, more complex passwords will avoid hackers or even people you know getting access to your information by cracking your password. Password managers make this simple, as most can generate secure passwords for you, and you won’t have to remember them.
- Only Share Necessary Information – If a website doesn’t require that you create an account and share your name, address, email address and other information, there is no reason to do so. The more information you share, the more information is available for the website to lose control of.
Read More: 8 Ways to Protect Your Digital Privacy