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You Can Beat the Latest Security Breaches

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Sarah Nicholas

It’s that time of year—when the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) releases its half-year data breach analysis report.

Given how much of our lives played out online over the last 18 months and how cyber criminals have risen to the occasion, you may not be surprised to know that 2021 is on pace to be a record year for data breaches. Publicly reported U.S. breaches, which have been up every month this year other than May, are up 38 percent in the second quarter of 2021 over Q1. Given this pace, the ITRC predicts breaches will reach an all-time high by the end of the year.

The lead actor? Phishing attacks. From email phishing, to whaling, to SMS phishing (or “smishing”), these attacks rely on social engineering to trick victims into divulging personal information like usernames, passwords or financial information like credit card numbers. You can learn about the many kinds of phishing here.  

Other top attacks driving the increase that could impact you and your family?  Ransomware and supply chain attacks.

Ransomware scrambles the victim’s data with encryption then withholds it until the victim pays a ransom, often only to find the data is corrupted. Due to the rise in remote work prompted by the pandemic, ransomware attacks are up 148 percent. In 2020, over 4.2 million American mobile users suffered ransomware attacks on their phones.

Supply chain attacks occur when criminals sneak malicious code into software updates that providers automatically push out to thousands of organizations. You may have done business with or had relationships with these organizations, leaving you vulnerable. Take the 2013 supply chain attack against Target. Target was the initial mark, but the 40 million Target customer credit card data was the ultimate prey.

One bright spot in the report is that although the number of breaches is up, the number of people impacted is down by 20 percent.

How can you beat these latest breaches?

  • Use unique passwords for each of your online accounts. It’s impossible to remember them all, so it’s best to use a free password manager. Here are PC Mag’s top picks.
  • From retail to email to financial, wherever possible, use two-factor authentication for all your online accounts.
  • Practice good Wi-Fi security by disabling auto-connect when you join networks, using a different password for your Wi-Fi network than you use anywhere else online, and storing as few networks on your devices as possible.
  • Consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to browse privately and anonymously. Read about some vetted, free options here.

While we hope you don’t experience a breach, if you find yourself to be one of the 52.8 million people this year who do, the ITRC is your best resource. If you find you have been the victim of a breach, contact them immediately at (888) 400-5530 or at to live-chat.

Once you have reported your case, you can download their free identity theft help app to manage and track your case.

If you receive a fraudulent email, follow these steps: do not reply, delete the email, do not click on any links or call any numbers in the message.

If you receive a suspicious phone, text or email, contact Ameris Bank at (866) 616-6020. Immediately contact Ameris Bank if you believe your personal information has been compromised. File a customer complaint with the FTC.


Written by: Sarah Nicholas

Sarah is the Director of Communications for Serendipity Communications. She lives in Plainwell, Michigan with her husband, daughters and stepson, with twin stepdaughters nearby. She is passionate about cyber safety education and animal rights and enjoys ballet dancing, reading and volunteering at her children’s school.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Ameris Bank is not affiliated with nor endorses any of the companies featured in this article.