Most data breaches happen fast — in a matter of minutes, according to a new Verizon report — but the impact on you and your credit report could make for a very long lasting financial headache.
Cybercriminals institute data breaches to steal your Social Security number, credit card number, bank account information and many other forms of personal financial information. And according to the latest Verizon 2016 Data Breach Investigations Report, these thieves still find success with phishing emails. Per the report, 30% of phishing messages were opened. This compares to the previous year figure of only 23%. Meanwhile, 13% of those clicked to open the malicious attachment or nefarious link.
Regardless of what method was used to compromise sensitive data, in 93% of cases, attackers were able to compromise systems in just a matter of minutes.
Verizon anaylzed more than 2,260 confirmed data breaches and more than 100,000 reported security incidents, finding that 89% of all attacks involve financial motives while ransomware attacks were up 16% from 2015. Meanwhile, 63% of data breaches were thanks to weak or stolen passwords.
Also blamed for data breaches are ‘miscellaneous errors,’ which can include improper disposal of sensitive information, misconfiguration of IT systems, and lost and stolen devices, such as laptops and smartphones. These errors also include people mistakenly sending sensitive information to the wrong person, which accounts for 26% of these errors, Verizon found.
What Can You Do About It?
When your information is stolen, thieves will typically sell it — or use it for themselves — to open as many accounts as fast as they can in your name. Unfortunately, you may not find out about it until you’re applying for a mortgage, opening a line of credit or financing a car, when it’s already too late.
You can, however, take a few simple steps to help protect yourself from cybercrime. For starters, you can implement a two-factor authentication for your applications and social networking sites, encrypt your data and limit who is authorized to access it. It is also helpful to be familiar with the signs your identity has been stolen or your credit information has been compromised.
Staying informed about your credit scores and individual credit accounts is also helpful in minimizing any damage done by data compromises. You canpull your free annual credit report every year at AnnualCreditReport.com, and keep track of your credit scores by viewing your two free credit scores, updated monthly at Credit.com, to make sure there aren’t any fraudulent accounts on your file. You can also go here to learn what to do if you are victim of identity theft.
This article originally appeared on Credit.com and was written by James LaDue.