Children, Data Breaches, and Identity Theft

If you're not careful, cybercriminals can infiltrate their way to breach your data and steal your identity, but did you know they also target children?

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A data breach is any incident when confidential and sensitive information like credit card details, medical records, or any login credentials) is stolen, exposed or retrieved. It is a type of cyberattack that occurs after criminals successfully gain access to a private system or home network, usually without the user knowing. Breaches can also happen through several scenarios:

  1. When someone unintentionally shares their personally identifiable information with their smart device
  2. A device containing the information gets stolen
  3. A device's manufacturer suffers from a data leak

Your smart devices and appliances are a prime target for data breaches by hackers. For the most part, smart devices are notoriously known to have weak security measures and hold a treasure trove of personal information. Think your name, address, date of birth, and medical/health information. If your device was part of a more significant data leak, your personal information could also be sold on the dark web. Unfortunately, a simple password change or file deletion cannot restore the impacts of a data breach.

Once a cybercriminal has their hands on your device or your private data, the sky is the limit.

In extreme cases, hackers can potentially use your data stored on your smart device to act on your behalf, steal your identity and wreak havoc on your life. Identity thieves can apply for credit cards, mortgages or bank loans, file fake tax claims and even use your personal information in the case of police arrest under your name.

Despite what you might think, identity theft can also happen to children. Children can accidentally reveal sensitive information when nearby or using smart home devices. With whatever they decide to post on social media and other internet platforms, hackers can get a picture of your child's identity. It may take a while to realise if a child's identity gets stolen, possibly until they reach adulthood when they require a credit report. Children who have their identities stolen can also be the victim of grooming or blackmail.

How to protect yourself and your children from identity theft through smart devices:

  1. Always share the minimum amount of personal information when using a smart device. This way, you limit the amount of information they can learn about you from your device should it get compromised.
  2. Discuss with your children the potential privacy risks when using smart devices. Remind them about what not to say when around smart devices, especially those with a microphone.
  3. If one of your smart device's manufacturers reports a data breach, assume that your device is compromised. Typically, companies will give out specific instructions to mitigate the impacts of the data breach. One thing to do is change or strengthen your device's login credentials. Implement two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  4. Realising that your identity has been stolen is a complicated matter. One way to check is to monitor your and your child's bank account, online platforms, and addressed mail for any suspicious activity.
  5. Be wary of any personal information stored on any smart device and stay alert for data breaches. Regularly clear any information that is unnecessary or unused.
More to Explore:

Here's further advice and resources to support parents and children on this issue:

What’s The Difference between Data Breach & Identity Theft?

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Learn about privacy and identity theft

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Identity theft isn’t just an adult problem. Kids are victims, too

Go to resource >