If you keep up with the news at all, the word hacking is something that probably rings alarm bells in your head by now. And if it doesn’t… it should. Recent trends indicate that virtually any and every computer system in the world is vulnerable to intrusion by unseen bandits lurking in the shadows. In fact, every new incident of data breaches is so sensational, it’s understandable if anyone is distracted from the big picture of how many people are cumulatively affected by this dilemma. Just to give a few notable examples:

  • Up to 70 Million Target Corporation customers lost personal information due to cyberattacks in November of 2013.
  • Up to 143 Million Equifax users lost personal information due to cyberattacks in May of 2017.
  • Up to 145 Million eBay users lost personal information due to cyberattacks in March of 2014.
  • Up to 152 Million Adobe Systems users lost personal information due to cyberattacks in October of 2013.
  • Up to 3 Billion Yahoo! users lost personal information due to cyberattacks in August of 2013.

For some who held simultaneous accounts with these, and the many other organizations that have suffered data-breaches, the risk of identity-theft and other problems is actually overlapping. There has never been a more urgent time to become smart about how you share, and protect, sensitive personal information with others. Here are some common sense precautions to take in order to protect yourself from cyberattacks:

  1. Don’t Volunteer Information:

One of the easiest ways for hackers to access sensitive information is by attacking companies that don’t prioritize safeguarding it. If you make a habit of providing detailed information to any website or company that requests you to create a profile, you’ll inevitably end up exposed by the fact that your data is scattered across a wide network of sites. When requested information on a form is optional, don’t fill it out. If it’s clear that a company only wants details about you for marketing purposes, don’t provide it. The less corporations know about you, the smaller the target on your back.

2.                   Maintain your Devices:

Smart technology has become a part of daily life. Not only does your computer contain sensitive information about you, but so does anything that connects to Wi-Fi, including: phones, cars, tablets, streaming devices, televisions, and so on. Always makes sure to update the operating systems on these devices and replace their default firewalls with sophisticated antivirus security suites.

3.                   Disable Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when Devices are Idle:

Wireless connectivity provides a backdoor for anyone with the right equipment to access and corrupt electronics without anyone’s knowledge. Unless you are actively using Wi-Fi on an a device, make sure to disable it before setting it aside, or switching it off. Not only does this significantly reduce the odds of hackers infiltrating your technology, it also decreases costs charged by service providers for data-use.

4.                   Use Two-Factor authentication:

Two-factor authentication is a security measure that requires multiple steps in a password-entry process. Rather than relying on a single password that can be easily deciphered by attackers, two-factor authentication generates a second temporary password via phone or email. This ensures that the user entering a password on a given account is genuine. Two-factor authentication makes it difficult for any hacker in a remote location to access a personal account.

5.                   Inspect the Webpages You Visit:

Before you ever decide to click any buttons on a webpage, always assess it to determine whether it’s been disguised for phishing. This is especially crucial before using any websites for financial transactions or sensitive communication. If you notice anything peculiar on a web page such as typos, altered appearance or inconsistent information, desist from browsing immediately until you can ascertain whether it’s been hacked.

It’s time to face facts. Hacking is a new frontier in criminal activity that isn’t about to diminish anytime soon. Considering that the bad guys aren’t about to let up on victimizing people online, we all have a responsibility as individual consumers to be tactical about our online activity. Any information about you is as valuable as currency in today’s society, so start treating it as such. Check out more of RISE Programs’ Blogs for helpful advice on consumer awareness and remember to spread the word by sharing this post.