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What can I do if my personal information has been leaked?: askST

What can I do if my personal information has been leaked?: askST

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 04 May 2021
Author: Sherlyn Sim

Most data leaks are irreversible.

Singapore Airlines, telco Singtel and furniture retailer Vhive made the headlines this year when the personal information of up to hundreds of thousands of their customers was leaked.

Such leaks often involve individuals' names, physical and e-mail addresses and mobile numbers.

Here are some of the commonly asked questions.

WHAT DO I DO WHEN MY DETAILS ARE LEAKED ONLINE?

The first step is finding out exactly what data might have been stolen.

If a breach involves financial information, victims should notify banks and financial institutions as well as change the passwords on all accounts, including security questions and PIN codes, said Mr Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for South-east Asia at cyber-security firm Kaspersky.

Victims should also monitor their accounts for signs of any new activity, such as log-ins on unlikely devices, Mr Yeo noted.

CAN I TAKE DOWN MY PERSONAL INFORMATION POSTED ON THE DARK WEB?

Most data leaks are irreversible. In some cases, companies that suffer from data leaks negotiate with hackers to buy back their data.

The cost of doing so could range from several hundreds to millions of dollars, depending on the victim's profile, said Mr Feixiang He, adversary intelligence research lead at Singapore-based cyber-security company Group-IB.

Hackers would promise not to sell such data to a third party but not all promises are necessarily kept, said Mr He.

"Such promises are very fragile. There is little supporting evidence that the threat actors permanently deleted the stolen data once they were paid," he added.

CAN I PURSUE LEGAL ACTION IF MY DATA HAS BEEN BREACHED BY AN ORGANISATION?

Yes. Individuals can seek legal action if damages result, but proceedings could take time, effort and resources which one might not be able to afford, said Mr Yeo.

Singapore's Personal Data Protection Act allows aggrieved individuals to take civil proceedings for loss or damage suffered from a breach.

WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE MY RISK OF EXPERIENCING A DATA BREACH?

While no one is immune to a data breach or can prevent a third-party service provider from getting hacked, good cyber-security habits will make one less vulnerable, said Mr Yeo.

Steps that individuals can take to mitigate risk of experiencing a data breach include:

• Using different passwords for different accounts so that hackers cannot gain access to all accounts.

• Be more cautious when divulging personal information on social media.

• Back up important data regularly so that when hit by a ransomware attack, victims can recover data locked by hackers.

• Secure devices with anti-virus and anti-malware software to fob off known malware and viruses.

• Monitor bank statements and credit reports regularly. Stolen data can turn up on the dark Web years after the original data breach, and victims may face the threat of financial losses.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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