The Internet–First, it was Facebook admitting its security had been breached, then Apple confessed to the same. Jeep’s Twitter account was compromised, having its emblem replaced with Cadillac’s. And over the pass few months, there’s been news reports about attacks on US government institutions as well as financial organizations.
Businesses and consumers alike are facing an unprecedented phenomenon–a shrinking world in which data thieves and more insidious characters are breaking through security protocols, gaining access to personal and corporate information.
In many cases, these attacks are mischievous but not damaging in nature. However, as attacks grow more ubiquitous, that may rapidly change. In addition, attacks will likely target information treasure troves, “State governments are a natural and frequent target for hackers and cyber-criminals. States maintain numerous databases containing sensitive government data and identifying details about the citizens they serve: tax information, driver’s license records, even campground reservations,” reports the Lansing State Journal.
Experts warn against many behaviors consumers regularly engage. Becoming complacent can invite trouble and once a breach is successful, the damage can be devastating.
The Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Bureau of Investigation make available tips to keep your personal computer and laptop safe as these are the most vulnerable. Though attacks on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones are emerging, they are not yet thought to be a serious threat.
In order to protect your personal information and finances, you can follow these steps recommended by the FBI and FTC:
- Never login to a WiFi network that isn’t encrypted. Check the URL of the network, if it does not begin with “https”, it’s wide open to being infiltrated.
- Update anti-spyware and anti-virus software regularly. Data thieves prey on computers with outdated security software because they are aware of its deficits.
- Take caution in downloading materials. Be it a game, images, video, or software, these are favored conduits for those looking to steal information or cause harm.
- Use false information. Instead of using your mother’s real maiden name, make something up. There are even sites like Lastpass.com which generate random information for consumers to use.
- Don’t leave your computer powered on. Because so many homes are equipped with fiber optic or cable, machines are connected 24/7, providing more opportunity for nefarious intentions.