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Is Personal Data Privacy Possible Anymore?

February 11, 2021

Personal Data Privacy is a Challenge in a Connected (and Hacked) World

Who is looking at your personal data? Chances are, it’s more people than you think. Even if you’ve been diligent about protecting it, providing your personal or business information is required for many basic daily functions. So is data privacy even still possible in our increasingly plugged-in world – and if it’s not, what can you do to mitigate the risk of your personal data falling into the wrong hands or coming back to haunt you?

In today’s booming Dark Web markets, data is currency, and that makes data privacy a thing of the past. Cybercriminals and their clients are happy to get their hands on any kind of data, from account records for defunct businesses to COVID-19 vaccine research data to user credentials for a file sharing service. It doesn’t even matter if the data is current – all kinds of data can be put to all kinds of nefarious uses. Especially personally identifying information (PII) and crucial business identity data.

You’ve provided your PII or your company’s identifying information hundreds of times. Every time you signed up for a newsletter, downloaded a business eBook, opened an account, or downloaded a webinar, you were asked to provide at least basic information like your name, address, phone number, email address, and other salient details. Every company you’ve done business with or contracted for a service has your PII or business identifying data creating third party risk for you and your business.

Why Do Cybercriminals Want Your Personal and Business Data?

That kind of data is the bread and butter of cybercriminals. It’s especially desirable for use in mounting spear phishing attacks. Phishing is today’s worst threat – more than 80% of all cyberattacks are phishing attacks. It’s also drastically ramped up, with more than 600% more phishing attacks in 2020 than the previous year. That means that cybercriminals are launching a new phishing attack every 39 seconds – and they’re using your PII to do it.

By gathering your PII or company data and potentially knowing at least some of your habits and interests, bad actors can craft spear phishing messages that really reel in victims. Phishing isn’t just a personal danger – spear phishing is a huge problem for businesses. Most spear phishing attacks aimed at businesses are designed to capture credentials or deploy malware or ransomware. Precisely targeted whaling attacks can also lead to dangerous, expensive business email compromise disasters involving executive accounts.

All of these cyberattacks can be accomplished with just a little bit of PII or business data and a touch of ingenuity. With plenty of information in Dark Web markets and data dumps, cybercriminals aren’t experiencing a shortage of available records. More than 22 billion records hit the Dark Web in 2020 alone. That data isn’t just harmful to consumers either. Experts estimate that over 60% of the data that’s already on the Dark Web can be used to attack businesses, and that number is steadily climbing.

Even if you and your business eschew most web-based services, your PII and your business data are still at risk. Only 13% of victims are even aware that they’ve been impacted in a data breach. It’s nearly impossible to keep your personal and business identifying data truly private anymore, but there are a few things that you can do to reduce the risk of damage from exposed PII and business identifying data on the Dark Web.

3 Ways to Mitigate the Danger

Be Cautious About Spear Phishing – This is the favored method of attack for more than 60% of cybercriminals, and it’s absolutely headed for your business. Protect your systems and data from spear phishing catastrophes more easily when everyone is part of your cybersecurity team. Optistar’s Security Awareness Training educates your staffers to spot and stop phishing emails using phishing simulation campaigns and video lessons, ensuring that every staffer is on the lookout for phishing threats.

Use Multifactor Authentication (MFA) – This single mitigation can stop up to 99% of cyberattacks from impacting your business. MFA is a must-have for businesses of any size to protect systems and data from intrusion. Take the power out of a stolen or cracked password and stop credential stuffing attacks cold by requiring a second identifier for access. Optistar can guide and assist with MFA as well as other secure identity and access management essentials.

Monitor the Dark Web Like the Bad Guys – Cybercriminals aren’t the only ones exploring the Dark Web. We’re there too with our Dark Web Monitoring Service. Our human and machine powered 24/7/365 monitoring and analysis combs the Dark Web for your protected credentials and sends up a red flag if they appear in Dark Web markets or dumps, giving you time to take action before the bad guys do.

While true data privacy may be a thing of the past, you don’t have to let that become a stumbling block for you or your business. By taking a few simple, sensible precautions, you can mitigate the risk of Dark Web data including stolen PII and throw up essential shields between your life and cybercrime.

Contact our Senior IT Consultants to see how we can help you secure your business. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to email us at ask@optistartech.com.

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