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South Africa’s biggest data breach and what to do about it

In October South Africa was hit by the largest data breach in its history. The ID numbers, names, gender, ethnicity, home ownership, contact information & estimated income of an estimated 60 million South Africans were leaked online from a website belonging to a real estate company.

The fact that the actual breach occurred in April this year and was only announced in October, should not be of concern, but the fact that the personal information of 60 million of us South Africans is now in the “open” and can be exploited by criminal and scammers worldwide, should be a cause for worry as this is the type of information cybercriminals use for identity theft.

With enough personal information‚ criminals can do damage to a person by illegally opening credit accounts or make bookings using the information included in this database leak. It is an extremely big risk. The great risk is to the individual whose data has been breached.

The following measures have been suggested by experts in the IT security business:

  • Monitor your credit reports. Every time you buy on credit, your credit record is created at the National Credit Regulator (NCR). Credit providers and financial institutions always check credit records (with your permission) for various applications. Check your credit report as often as you can.
  • Do not be afraid to put a freeze on your credit information. A freeze means the credit bureaus can’t release your credit report or any other information in your file without your authorization. With no information, thieves will not be able to open any account in your name.
  • Consider an identity theft protection service. For a fee, some third-party services take credit monitoring a step further and notify you if someone has inquired about credit in your name.
  • Protect your email. Your email address and password, which are often compromised in a data breach, can be a treasure trove for identity thieves.  With these data points, thieves can potentially get access to your banking, and other personal information.
  • It’s also important to use secure passwords with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols, change passwords often and use different passwords for each of your accounts.

In the wake of the breach, the website ThisIsMe has launched new tools and revealed practical steps that you can take to mitigate the prevalent risks resulting from this explosive breach.  Read more about it on MyBroadband.

[ARTICLE BY DAVID WILES]

 

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