In today’s world, online data breaches are rife and constant. Huge multinational corporations are battling to acquire data (which has been reported to be a bigger commodity market that oil) and are willing to pay top dollar to get it.

Amongst big, household-named companies are cybercriminals, looking to get their hands on leaked online personal data to hack, fraud, and con people into getting money. Data breaches aren’t always temporary – they can lead to huge complications when that data gets exposed, from annoying targeted ads to dangerous and sensitive information being widely available.

Just last year alone, the United States saw data breaches exceeding 1,862, leaving over 298 million internet users exposed online. However, by making some smart online choices and security improvements, you can upgrade your online security, protect your data and use the internet free of worry.

Protecting your online data is critical and you need to use a fine-toothed comb when going over your leaks. You can use verification tools and multi-factor authentication, it is a strong form of cybersecurity that can make sure that your apps and log-ins are only accessed by you and you alone. Upgrading your software and devices would be another smart starting point, especially in instances where the software no longer has support from a manufacturer.

Here are a few tips on what you should think about when thinking about protecting your online data:

Additional protection

You can look at installing a firewall, or anti-virus, and also using a strong and free VPN service, like Urban-VPN. These tools can protect you and others in your household against both cybercriminals and nefarious third parties looking to get secret access to your information. These days, you can even look at purchasing cybersecurity insurance to cover all bases.

Firewalls can help in stopping dangerous viruses from breaking into your PC. Whilst most operating systems have a built-in firewall, the hardware type is much better for online security. A VPN can stop all the mentioned cybercriminals and third parties from hacking into your activity, monitoring your traffic and conversations, and getting access to your information and location. It cannot do everything however but works perfectly as part of a secure approach to online browsing.

Leaks and breaches check

Before using a website and putting in your details and password, you should check to see if it is secure. Looking at the top of the page near the address bar, you should be able to identify a lock symbol alongside the start of the URL – this indicates the site is secure. There are other things you can check, such as the site’s privacy policy, contact info, seals, and also its previous history of data breaches.

Companies as big as Yahoo, Facebook, and Home Depot have had data breaches in the past, meaning online users on these sites could have had their data shared with hackers and cybercriminals.

Social media

These days it’s common place to overshare on social media, posting every snippet of daily life onto a social media platform. This can be more than frustrating for the viewers – it can expose your data and lead to leaks. You should always look at the internal platform’s settings to see who can see your posts (through the privacy settings) and be careful when posting around security question answers – things like birthdays, hometowns, pet names and such should be strictly off-limits or very carefully covered.

More recently, we’ve seen a rise in social media data breaches and phishing attacks on sites like Instagram and messaging platforms like Telegram. Cybercriminals have been found to use mutual contacts to gain trust before they swindle the unfortunate user of their money and information. You should remain prevalent and thoughtful about who follows you and who interacts with your online posts and messaging.

Public wifi

Activities like online shopping and digital payment transactions are so commonplace that they are happening more and more on public networks. You might think that it can’t hurt to pay for that coffee via contactless and sit in the coffee shop and browse Amazon, but it really can. Most public networks have a frail security system and that is being kind. You should wait till you are home to browse the web and shop, using at the very least a password-protected network before you start ordering that next book.

Unfortunately, hackers do not need granted access to unsecured free wifi. There’s no filter between the hacker and yourself on the public network, so in a lot of instances instead of you sending your information to the network, you’re feeding personal data straight to the hacker.

Attached files

This is more related to the actions of a cybercriminal, but you can still certainly be at risk. Phishing scams have risen dramatically over the last few years, becoming more complex and harder to spot. Their scams will seem incredibly rail, like an email from your work’s CEO or your bank. Things like different email addresses or a different way of spelling/writing can be a huge giveaway on spam, but be incredibly cautious. Always check the source.


A password should be something further than just words or numbers, it should be a combination of different cases, symbols, numbers, and also a comma to break the CSV sheet a hacker will try and collate data into. It’s usually recommended to make unique passwords for different sites than a one-fits-all. There are pieces of software like a password manager that can help with this.


Hopefully these tips and pointers on how to be safer with your online data help. You can always look today at tools like Have I have Been Pwned? to see if any of your online data has been included in a breach. It will show you how vulnerable we are but also help you begin the steps to protect your online activity.

A Pew Study found that more than 1 in 2 Americans have found their online data involved in breaches, so if you find yours you shouldn’t panic, but it is important to take action today.