Data Theft: How your data gets stolen
Data is one of the most useful assets out there today –for users like us, and for hackers looking to make a quick buck.
The other day, I received a message on Quora, which very politely let me know that my data had been compromised, and I needed to reset my password. Simple problem, simple solution, right? Wrong.
I rarely used Quora, but my account was linked to multiple different social media platforms where a lot of my personal information had been shared. All details I had shared on the platform were now being sold on the dark web.
Data breaches potentially affect about 1 in every 9 people. Daniel Markuson, a digital privacy expert at NordVPN explains our vulnerability more, and here’s when you are most at risk:
1. When you download unverified content: We all go on various websites to download content like apps, games, movies, or browser extension. These unverified websites and the content available on the websites include viruses or spyware. These viruses and spyware might take your personal data such as financial information, credit card numbers, and so on.
2. When you receive phishing emails or text messages: You must have come across a mail or text message that promises to be from your bank. It asks you for your account details. Sometimes, it also says you’ve just one a lottery. Once you click on the links within these mails and messages, an infected attachment is downloaded to your device. This is also a threat to your personal information. These mails and messages play with your emotions too. They are constructed in such a way that that they create a sense of fear, curiosity, or urgency to click on a malicious link or download an infected attachment.
3. When you use portable devices: This includes USB sticks, smartphones, flash memory cards, hard disk or any storage device. If these storage devices are not kept safely and gets into the wrong hands, the photos, video or any other data in it is vulnerable to leaks.
4. When you come in contact with skimming devices: Okay, we know this sounds alien to you. In simple terms, a skimming device is basically a piece of hardware that is fitting into slots where you would normally swipe your card. When you go to an ATM and withdraw money, the device reads your card.
A skimming device retains your information – by copying the magnetic strip and saving your PIN code - to then conduct unauthorized payments or transactions done through your card – even though your card may be safely in your own possession.
These are just the most common ways data is mined and stolen. There can be a myriad other ways your personal information can be taken and used without your knowledge or consent. Stay tuned for Part II, where we talk about what happens to your data once it’s stolen and how you can protect it.