5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Cyber Attacks

By:  Lynsey Bish

This is the digital age, where retail infrastructure is quickly transitioning form credit cards to one-click shopping. What is not so clear is the personal risk and exposure each consumer takes when we go online to buy a shirt. How can we protect ourselves?  First, a few key facts:

  • Computer Hackers are here to stay.
  • Hackers are getting more sophisticated at penetrating company’s firewalls.
  • The global aggregate information website Intelcrawler.com states that there are currently six retail merchants dealing with cyber-attacks.
  • Companies will not let the public know about a cyber-security breach until there is factual evidence of a breach.

It’s safe to say that this problem isn’t going anywhere so here are a few tips to stay ahead of any hackers with the desire to steal your information

1. Change Passwords Regularly

Keep a habit of regularly changing your passwords, once a month should suffice. As for choosing a password make sure they are long enough that only you can decipher/remember what they mean. Coming up with obvious passwords such as your birthdate or initials do not pass muster. Be creative and make your passwords strong by using random combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols that have no connection to you or your family.

If you’re having a tough time remembering all your passwords choose a secure password management service that stores encrypted passwords, like LastPass.

2. Set Up Credit Card Alerts

Most banks and credit card companies have real time notification services that allow them to contact you in the event of a purchase deemed “unusual.” A text notification is an excellent system to know what’s going on with the card at all times.

Some credit card companies even let you set parameters for text notifications. This way a lunch in your area can fly under the radar, but a purchase on the other side of the country will ask for your permission to confirm that it’s actually you making the purchase.

3. Subscribe To Identity Protection

What hackers’ malware does is maneuver its way into private files, grab your credit card and personal information, and sneak out. There are numerous Identity Protection companies who will monitor your credit cards, Social Security number, and other data for a fee. LifeLock is one of the more popular companies that offer identity theft protection.

4. Think Before Biting Into Data

Phishing attacks are one of the most common ways users get hacked. That email from your favorite retailer may look legit but once you click on one of the URLs, you could land on a hacker’s infected web page. Do not click on links you aren’t sure about. Be wary of USB devices claiming to charge you cellphone or other devices. They can poison you with malware or suck up all your personal data.

 5. Keep Your Private Information Private.

Unfortunately, there is a constant threat to your personal data whether you are on the go (cell phone, wallet, and laptop) or at home (PC, home phone). Take extra provision in giving information to unsolicited callers. The more you communicate, the more they learn. Many con-artists make calls to unwitting consumers and are able to smoothly trick the listener into thinking that they are an authorized vendor.

A simple rule: do not provide your passwords or personal information to unsolicited callers. When searching new websites, to ensure its security, make sure there is a closed lock symbol at the bottom right of the screen.  Web addresses that begin with “https” are generally secure, and if you click on the lock symbol on the bottom right, it will display the same “https” address.

Stop. Think. Connect.

The biggest advantage you can give yourself against cyber-attacks is to raise awareness of cyber risk.  Homeland Security has a national public awareness campaign, “Stop. Think. Connect.” that is aimed at increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering the American public to be safer and more secure online. Stop.Think.Connect. has an online toolkit that provides resources and guides for Social Media, Cybersecurity while traveling, and discussion topics about Cybersecurity with kids, identity theft, and internet scams.

Protecting yourself online may seem like a daunting task, but by following the five easy steps it becomes simple. You don’t have to be a computer expert to take measures to stay safe online.


Pokemon Go and The New Cyber Scare

By now, you have most likely downloaded and started playing, or at least heard about, the newest craze to sweep the nation, Pokémon Go.  The app is a revolutionary game that encourages people to get up off the couch and go outside, all while getting to capture Pokémon from your smartphone.   The game is a great way to inadvertently get some exercise and meet new people. However, a new concern has presented itself as the app leaves users open to security breaches.

When registering for Pokémon Go, users can choose to register with their current Pokémon accounts or with a Google account.  If you are signing up to play with your Google account on an iPhone, you are unwittingly putting you account’s security at risk.  Players are unknowingly giving unrestricted access to Pokémon Go, including your email, any and all Google Drive documents, photos, and search history.

With the craze in full swing, we are now seeing cyber security concerns, where hackers can break into user’s phones through the app.  Some of the pop ups that offer to help them, actually contain malware which gives the hackers access to contacts, photos, locations, and other sensitive data that you might have stored on your phones.

Are you using a device that contains sensitive work related information?  If you are, then your company is at risk for a cyber security breach.  We strongly encourage you not to play the game on your phone if you use it for company purposes.

Niantic, the company behind Pokémon Go, has addressed some of these issues through the app’s first iOS update.  Now, the only information that the game will collect from are location data, email, and camera access.  With this update, it seems your email and Google account ID will still be vulnerable to hackers. These problems only seemed to occur with iPhone users signing in with their Google account, not Android users or users with already existing Pokémon Trainer Club accounts.

If you have any more questions or concerns about this problem, or would like more information on cyber security insurance, you may contact Mark Elliot at mje@babbins.com.


Sources: http://www.politifact.com/ohio/article/2016/jul/14/pokemon-go-rnc-it-security-risk/