As with every new year, there are new data breaches in 2020 that we need to be on the lookout for. A data breach is the intentional or unintentional release of secure or private/confidential information to an untrusted environment. In other words, a data breach is when someone steals your information and makes it public or passes it on to others without your permission. 

One of the three major credit bureaus, Experian, has provided us with a list of new data breaches that they predict will have a big impact in 2020.

Data Breaches To Keep An Eye Out For

  • Mobile Payment Breaches –  In this scheme, criminals will steal payment information from platforms used to process transactions when you make a purchase using a mobile device. One of the main vulnerabilities is the use of public WiFi. When you use public WiFi, your data is sent from Point A (your mobile device) to Point B (a website or service). The issue is that when you send your information using public WiFi, there is a middle ground between Point A and Point B. Due to the shared nature of public WiFi, it is possible for a thief to capture the information you send when it is in transit from Point A to Point B. In order to safeguard yourself, never send any sensitive information when connected to public WiFi.
  • Smishing – “Phishing” is a practice that criminals use where they send an e-mail which is disguised as being from a reputable source such as a company. In these e-mails, they will attempt to coerce individuals into divulging their personal information, such as credit card numbers, bank account information or passwords. “Smishing” is the same practice, only using SMS text messages instead of e-mails. Never reply to a text message with any sensitive information. Never click a link from an untrusted source, no matter how legitimate it may seem.
  • Deepfake Tech – This technology allows an existing video to be manipulated where someone else’s likeness is superimposed onto the actual person in the video. A new face is placed onto the existing face in a hyper-realistic fashion. This is dangerous because a video can be manipulated to be extremely realistic, though the person in the video was never actually there. Why is this dangerous? A deepfake video could be made of a politician meeting with a rival world leader. The video looks real and their voice sounds real, but the meeting never really happened. Also, someone’s face could be superimposed into a compromising or pornographic video. Deepfake technology is blurring the lines between fact and fiction.
  • Drone Hacking – Another data breach that is related to mobile payment breaches is drone hacking. Criminals are using drones outfitted with mobile hacking devices to tap into public WiFi. As a middleman between the points A and B that we mentioned earlier, these drones are stealing sensitive information from unsuspecting consumers and businesses. 
  • Hacktivism – A new breach known as “hacktivism” is a combination of hacking and activism. Hackers will attempt to steal information or wreak havoc on companies or organizations as a form of protest. These acts may be politically or morally motivated to try and harm an entity that goes against the hacker’s beliefs.

How Do I Protect Myself?

If you want to keep your information safe and avoid identity theft (as best you can), there are a few things you can do.

  • Never open links or attachments in e-mails or SMS text messages unless you are certain the sender is reputable.
  • Always avoid giving out your personal information, whether electronically or over the phone, unless you have no doubt that you are speaking or sending it to someone trustworthy. 
  • Never send personal information while connected to public WiFi.
  • Identity theft can never be prevented, but there are tools you can use to lessen the blow. Aside from using caution, as mentioned in the tips above, we recommend subscribing to an identity theft restoration service. These services will restore your identity to its pre-theft status and will save you potentially hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expense. 

We have to stay on our toes because there are new data breaches in 2020 and more will be coming. You can never be too safe when it comes to your safety.