Bell Canada, one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies, announced Tuesday, Jan. 23 that up to 100,000 customers were affected by a data breach. The company has said that hackers likely obtained sensitive customer information, including subscriber names, phone numbers, account names and email addresses. At this time, there is no indication that credit card numbers or other banking information was compromised.
The company is advising customers to change their passwords and security questions. Affected users should also be on the lookout for suspicious activity, as cyber criminals will likely use the lost email addresses and user profiles to carry out more harmful phishing and social engineering scams.
Bell is currently working with law enforcement and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada to investigate the event. Officials are looking to determine how the breach occurred, what Bell is doing to mitigate the situation and potential follow-up actions.
This latest breach comes just eight months after 1.9 million customer emails were stolen from Bell’s database by an anonymous hacker. High-profile cyber security events are becoming commonplace, and organizations must continue to conduct security audits, review their record retention polices and provide employee training if they are to prevent future breaches. While customers can’t prevent companies from being hacked, they can take the following steps to reduce the risk of losing personal information:
- Encrypt data whenever possible.
- Back up data.
- Use anti-malware protection.
- Update phones and computers regularly.
- Secure wireless networks.
- Use a firewall.
- Make passwords complex and change them often.
- Avoid clicking suspicious links or navigating to deceptive websites.
To read the official statement from Bell regarding its most recent data breach, click here.