After 7 million impacted in Robinhood data breach, experts offer some tips for amateur investors

·3 min read

We're all experiencing breach fatigue.

Online retailers, utility companies and longstanding financial institutions have been targets in the past year, and this week it was Robinhood's turn.

The investment app reported a data breach this week, after the email addresss of about 5 million Robinhood investors and the full names of additional 2 million customers were exposed when the company was hacked.

The online trading platform said that no Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or debit-card numbers were exposed and that customers have seen no financial losses because of the intrusion.

Unlike some previous attacks, Robinhood was hacked after one of the company's customer-service reps was duped into sharing information, but the results were the same: Personal information for about 5 million traders was up for grabs.

What happened in the Robinhood data breach?

Robinhood reported Monday that it suffered a security breach last week where hackers accessed some personal information for a total of 7 million Robinhood customers and demanded a ransom payment, according to the Associated Press.

The hackers had access to an internal tool that allowed them to alter users' accounts, according to a screenshot obtained by Motherboard. The tool would give them access to delete multi-factor authentication, but Robinhood reported no changes were made, according to Motherboard.

Stop over-sharing personal info

"Protect the crown jewels," one expert said.

As the world becomes more digital, finding personal information like birthdays and family member names is easy as people willingly overshare on social media.

"Just as a company thinks about its private information, specifically intellectual information, we have to think the same way,” said Andrew Rubin, CEO of Illumio.

Don't give in to hacking fatigue

People are experiencing breach fatigue explains Lisa Plaggemier, Interim Executive Director at the National Cybersecurity Alliance. We know our information is out there, so we think there is little we can do. But there are ways to keep your information safe and one area is password management.

"(Hackers) use password cracking tools that can crack them in seconds. So it’s really important to use long, complex passwords and not to recycle them for multiple accounts,” Plaggemier said.

Ditch the notepad with all your passwords, and try a password manager application. We should believe that companies will keep our information safe, but implementing personal techniques will keep your proactive.

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Earn the right to invest

Young investors must avoid two common mistakes: Investing without a solid foundation and lacking a good understanding of what they're investing in.

A solid foundation and understanding of your investments helps determine how aggressive you should be, said financial adviser Douglas Bonaparth.

"The sooner you start to invest, the sooner you'll be able to start compounding, but compounding only works is if you stay invested in your strategy and the way you stay invested is if you have these foundational pieces in place," Bonaparth said.

No matter your platform, stick to the fundamentals

Regardless of where investors put their money, the fundamentals remain the same: Understand cash management, control cash flow, support emergency funding and simply understand their goals.

The stock market can be volatile and will make unexpected changes, so preparing properly is an important task. Patience is key.

"Focus on things you can control," says Bonaparth. "How often you’re checking your account, where is your money going, how much are you able to save, can you negotiate a higher paycheck."

Investors who focus on the fundamentals can find more success than those prone to making spontaneous moves, he said.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: The Robinhood data breach offers lessons for investors in hacking era