Digital Hygiene ๐Ÿงผ

How to protect yourself against reward program data breaches

Cybercrime is a rising concern – and reward program data breaches are no exception!

One of the most popular ways of expanding online business and getting more customers is through “reward” or “loyalty” programs. Nearly all companies with a decent number of customers try to introduce some sort of rewards program to increase customer loyalty and volume. 

However, such programs are often riddled with issues. The biggest one is the looming threat of a rewards program data breach. Since such programs have information about thousands of customers stored in them, they are a pot of gold for cybercriminals.

What’s more, companies often do not pay enough heed to the security and protection of such programs. This ultimately results in large-scale data breaches such as the infamous Marriot International, Equifax, and IHG Rewards club cases of a data breach. 

However, if customers understand how such data breaches happen and what steps can be taken to prevent them, the incidence and severity of such attacks can be lessened significantly. The following are some steps that can be taken to protect oneself from cybercriminals and loyalty program data breaches. 

How data breaches happen

Data breaches are all too common in today’s world. However, certain circumstances increase the chances of such cyber-crimes from occurring. The most common occurrence of data breaches happens to be in loyalty programs with an extensive database but little to no security. 

Even large companies have been known to provide minimal protection for their loyalty programs, which is paramount to criminal negligence, as seen in some lawsuits. This is especially true considering how these programs are akin to jackpots for numerous cybercriminals. 

Human error, negligence, a large collection of sensitive information, and inadequate security are all a recipe for large scale data breaches. 

How to prevent reward program data breaches

Most individuals don’t think twice before joining seemingly innocuous loyalty programs because of their attractive offers. However, there are security concerns behind such decisions that should be taken into consideration. Luckily, a few simple steps and some intermittent monitoring can significantly help individuals protect themselves from a rewards program data breach. 

Step #1: Monitor credit reports

The best way to catch a data breach is by continually monitoring credit reports. Individuals who have signed up for loyalty and reward programs are especially susceptible to credit card fraud and loyalty program data breach. Such individuals must always check their credit reports to ensure no unaccounted purchase has been made that could indicate a data breach. 

Step #2: Use password managers

Experts suggest using different passwords for all websites. However, everyone is well aware of how difficult that is to manage. Most individuals either keep one password for all their accounts or save all their information on a simple document on their laptops or phones. 

Both practices are dangerous and can easily lead to data breaches. For this reason, password managers can be used as an excellent way to keep all your passwords safe and prevent an extensive data breach. 

RELATED: Try the best password management apps

Step #3: Use multi-factor authentication

Loyalty programs may seem less interesting to hackers but the opposite is true: there’s a lot of value there and so you should practice good digital hygiene.

Multi-factor authentication systems are much more robust at stopping hackers in their tracks than any other security system. This system essentially doubles the security and makes it virtually impossible for a hacker to get through so many systems and commit a data breach. 

Regardless of what program individuals are signing up for, they should ensure that their payment systems require multi-factor authentication. This prevents unauthorized access and make sure that no one uses your points without your knowledge.

Step #4: Check to see if your personal data has been hacked

To find out whether your personal data has been hacked, check our data breach tracker. In such data breaches, the first step should always be to secure all accounts again by changing passwords and signing out of other devices. 

If your personal information has been stolen in one of the most common types of data breaches, follow our guide on what to do after a data breach.

Step #5: Only join reputable loyalty programs

Although companies have been known to not pay too much attention to their rewards programs’ security, recent large-scale data breaches have prompted all companies with similar programs to reconsider. This is why some companies now proudly boast about how secure their loyalty and reward programs are. 

When you subscribe to such programs, you should consider how safe they are. There is often information about the program’s security features that customers can read to assess whether they should or should not subscribe to this program. Customers can also petition such companies to improve their security if they feel it is inadequate. 

Step 6: Delete your accounts when you’re done

Rewards program breaches are common for several reasons. However, the number one reason so many cybercriminals are attracted to such programs is that their databases contain personal information and how little security there is to deter hackers. Individuals can keep themselves protected from a loyalty program data breach by taking a few necessary precautions, as mentioned before.