According to a new report by the Wall Street Journal, 47% of consumers surveyed in recent study had been affected by cybercrime in some way, shape, or form.
The study, conducted by Norton (the antivirus company), found that more than 348 million identities were exposed over the past year as a result of data breaches. Vital information such as social security numbers, credit or debit card numbers, medical conditions and medical records, and other sensitive personal information can be taken and exposed in acts of cybercrime. What’s more troubling, however, is that there is an underground online market where anyone can go to purchase malware or the services of a hacker. You need to know how to protect yourself and your assets to avoid becoming a victim of cybercrime.
Here are three ways you can diminish your chances of having your personal information stolen:
(1) Don’t make your passwords obvious. Passwords are a pain. We have passwords for 10-15 different accounts. They are hard to remember. It is an imperfect system. However, do not succumb to the temptation of making your password super-easy to remember, and using that password for every account. For example, I should never make my password “Koester123”. Create a password that is at least 8 characters long, with a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols. Try to make a password that is easy for you to remember, but would not be obvious to the outside world. If you do this, you are likely already one step ahead of most everyone else.
(2) Avoid clicking on emails you don’t recognize. When determining whether emails are safe to open or not, use the “smell” test. Do you know the person? Does the link look like it directs you to a valid website? Are there typos in the email? When in doubt, do not click on a link provided in an email. If an offer in an email seems too good to be true, it probably is.
(3) If you lose a laptop or phone, take action immediately. Despite the advances in malware and other hacking tactics, the number one way criminals steal data is still good old fashioned theft. Hackers are able to gain a wealth of information about you if they have your cell phone or laptop. So, if your laptop or cell phone gets stolen, make sure you contact banks and any other financial institutions you have an account with, change your passwords, and take any other necessary preventative action as soon as possible to minimize the potential damage that the wrongdoer can cause.
If you would like to learn more about how to protect your business or your customers, click HERE.