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Lessons and stories from the front lines of fighting identity theft.


Fact Versus Fiction: Ensuring Your Safety Against a Data Breach

Jul 30


Online identity theft can be a serious problem, for both small businesses and high profile companies and retailers, many of which have recently experienced data breaches due to online vulnerabilities. Additionally, many consumers now store personal information in wireless storage networks commonly referred to as “the cloud.” Cloud storage allows customers to store photos, documents and other sometimes sensitive information via web-accessible electronic storage accounts.

While these types of data breaches may or may not have affected you directly, they can be a timely reminder to check the integrity of your information against a data breach. Online security vulnerabilities are often ignored because “upload”, “download”, “share”, and “post” are some of the most common social behaviors on the web. Information stored on the web that isn’t backed up can be especially difficult to recover in the event of a breach incident.

Protecting your information online is no longer just an option. To do it effectively, one has to be savvy to the truths about information safety on the web. How many of the myths below do your friends and neighbors still believe?

Myth: Your accounts are completely secure if you use the required simple password.

Fact: While having a password gets you on the road to protecting your information, having a complex password is better. Many studies show that several data breaches are a result of weak passwords. You should avoid using simple passwords, such as a pet or family member’s name, a word in the dictionary or a sequence of numbers. Using these types of passwords can increase your risk of a having your account accessed. It is important to create difficult passwords that use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters to reduce the chance of a breach. Changing your password regularly also helps you keep others out of your private accounts.

Myth: One level of security provides enough protection.

Fact: While it is true that having even one type of security helps keep an account safe, it is better to use additional layers of protection. Enabling two-factor authentication where available could significantly reduce your risks and provide better protection when applied correctly.

Encryption services can provide an additional layer of security. Before saving or storing documents, consider encrypting the data before storing it. During the encryption process, data is scrambled in such a way that the information is unrecognizable to others. As a result, only those with the correct encryption key can read the information in its original form.

To make certain your accounts are protected, employ strong passwords and consider encrypting data so you can enjoy a little peace of mind.

About the Author: Kem Washington is a certified public accountant and business professor at Dillard University. Her passion for personal finance education is evident in her blog,, and her radio show, Disaster Finance.

Follow Kem Washington on Twitter and Google+.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.

Published by permission from, Inc., an Experian company. © 2015, Inc. All rights reserved.

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