TalkTalk, M&S and British Gas have had some serious security issues over the last couple of weeks, with millions of customers' personal details potentially stolen. That’s really fucking bad. Though you might not be able to change the past, there are a few steps you can take to try and protect yourself. Remember, time is of the essence.
Change Your Passwords
Obvious, annoying, but necessary. It's the first thing you need to do. Change your login details as soon as possible. Your email address and password can serve as a gateway for hackers, and you need to seal it up as quickly as you can. This doesn’t just apply to your TalkTalk, British Gas or M&S accounts either. You can pretty much guarantee that the baddies are trying to get into all of your other accounts, and that’ll be an easy task if you use the same details on every site you use. Yes, it’s a pain in the backside, but try to use different passwords for different accounts, using combinations of numbers, punctuation, lower case letters and capitals. Also make a a mental note of changing your passwords on a regular basis.
If you can't log into your account, try resetting your password, and if that fails, get in touch with your email provider sharpish.
Uncover Any Trails
Here's where things get complex. If the hackers have managed to force their way into your systems, you need to ensure they haven't created a bunch of new accounts in your name. Thoroughly check your inbox, sent items, and other folders for any unusual-looking activities. If new accounts have indeed been set up, it's important to get rid of them quickly. If you can't find a way in, get in touch with the service or site and explain your situation.
If you tend to store things like PIN numbers and bank details in your inbox, alarms should be ringing. Hackers will lift every scrap of information that's important to you and take as much as they can with it. Take a look at what they may have gained access to and try to predict their next steps.
It's also wise to go the extra mile and check your email filters to make sure none of your information is sneakily being forwarded elsewhere. The hackers may have established new shipping addresses and payment methods in a further attempt to screw you, so dive into your settings and have a good snoop around.
Contact Your Bank
Ultimately, hackers are just glorified thieves. They want your money, and don't care how much hair you lose in the process. Even if you're sure you aren't one of the poor bastards to have had all of their personal details taken, go through the recent history associated with your account, and ring, email or visit your local bank. They should already have systems in place that automatically block unusual transactions, but instruct them to be extra vigilant, and even cancel and replace your cards if necessary.
Any more tips? Let us in on the action!
Image credit: Guilherme Marcondes via Flickr