This year has brought one major data breach after another. In fact, 2019 will likely surpass 2018 in the number of breaches and the billions of consumer accounts hacked.
With every new breach, especially from very famous companies, customers ask themselves if they are at risk. How big the risk depends on what data was stolen.
We've found a very handy website that keeps you up to date on the latest data breaches and offers tips on how to protect yourself. Even more useful is its risk-level chart.
Breach Clarity explains data breaches
Breach Clarity's website is designed to make it easy for consumers to find information about data breaches. It even starts by providing a quick description of what a data breach is and how it affects consumers.
That's followed by a quick rundown of how you can find out what kind of data was exposed. The section also provides links to other websites where you can find answers.
Finally, it answers questions about how serious the breach was and what steps to take to protect yourself. All you have to do is search the name of a company you do business with. With two search bars located on the site, Breach Clarity makes it easy to look up a company.
Conducting searches on Breach Clarity
This year, First American Financial, one of the nation's leading settlement and insurance providers, exposed 800 million records containing sensitive data. So we entered the company's name in the Breach Clarity search tool. Here's the information we received:
You immediately see the risk level of this breach. On a scale of 1 to 10, it comes in at a 9. Below the chart are the top risks of how your stolen data can be used.
Next to the risk level, there is a column listing what records likely were exposed. A second column prioritizes what actions you should take.
The site is still in its beta phase and it doesn't have a feature that tells you if your information was hacked. But right now, paired with Have I Been Pwned?, you can find out if you were caught up in the breach and see how serious the attack was.
Now, let's take the name of another company that has been in the news for settling a breach that took place in 2017 -- Equifax. Here's what a Breach Clarity search showed:
Equifax's data breach risk level stands at 3. Talk about sound and fury.
Let's look at one more. In 2018, Starwood-Marriott hotel chain experienced a massive data breach that compromised the information of around 500 million guests who made reservations at their many properties.
Here's what Breach Clarity had on the hotel chain:
If you get caught in a data breach here are steps you can take to protect yourself:
- Get into a routine of changing your online account passwords every three months. That means something new and different for each account because if one gets breached, that compromises so much more if you're using the same password.
- Be on the lookout for phishing scams. Hackers will create emails pretending to be the affected company in hopes of getting you to click on malicious links. If the email provides a link back to the company, don't click on it. Type the company's actual URL on your browser to avoid a spoofed site.
- Frequently check your bank statements for signs of suspicious activity. If you see anything strange, report it immediately.
- If you see suspicious activity on your credit cards, call your credit card company and put a freeze on your accounts as soon as possible.
- Install strong security software not just on your PC but also on your smartphones.
As we mentioned, Breach Clarity's website is still in the beta stage. But we highly suggest that you keep checking in on the site so you can see what new features it will offer.
Facebook was still sharing data as $5 billion settlement becomes official
Much has been said about Facebook's carelessness in regards to user data, but a recent settlement between the company and the FTC made headlines when the actual dollar amount of $5 billion was announced. Finally, it looked as if Facebook was about to get hit where it hurts the most: the bottom line. And now, the judgment is officially set in stone -- with commissioners approving the historical penalty into action.