What Is A Personal Data Breach And What Can You Do If It’s Happened To You?

It doesn’t matter how secure you think you’re being with your data protection measures, there are still cracks in any defense that can be breached. A personal data protection breach is perhaps one of the most invasive and worrying of all hacks as it means an organization or individual has gained access to private information that could lead to everything from blackmail to identity theft.

This information can be anything from a home address or phone number to your national insurance number or more sensitive medical information.

Cybercriminals are getting more clever and more sneaky, to the extent that you might not even be aware when your data has been taken without your consent. Indeed, only around 21% of data breach victims had been aware of any unusual activity prior to the breach.

What constitutes a breach of GDPR?

We’ve all probably heard the phrase “GDPR” being bandied around in recent years, but few of us are probably aware of what it really means. Essentially, it refers to personal data and how it’s shared online.

As a typical data protection breach example, if a business realized that its records had been hacked into and a number of customer details were either leaked or deleted, that would constitute a major breach of GDPR. It would then be up to the business to inform the affected individuals and act on it.

What to do when your data is breached

The first thing is to not panic. You’re not powerless here and there are plenty of steps you should be taking to ensure that it doesn’t happen again and that you are properly compensated. In 2019 alone there were over 4 million personal data breaches so it’s not paranoia to think you might have been affected.

The first step is to make sure you have actually been hacked. The site HaveIBeenPwned is a great tool here that scans your email and lets you know if any info has been leaked. The next step is determining what has been stolen and how it can be used. For example, is it more information than could be found in the average phone book? Even something seemingly innocuous like your birth date can be used as false verification, remember.

If your financial information has been stolen then contact your bank and have the account frozen ASAP. You might then need to start looking into potential data protection compensation claims if a significant amount has been siphoned from your accounts. The final step then, of course, if to make sure it doesn’t happen again by doubling down on your password protection and being smarter about who you trust when you’re browsing in future.