Keeping Your Personal Data Personal

February 1, 2019
Todd Fritz

It was a typical Sunday morning for me. I was sipping my cup of coffee, catching up on facebook, checking in on my bank accounts, logging in to our CRM to do a bit of work, returned an item on Amazon, all while watching an episode on Netflix. Then I read a great article in the St. Cloud Times on data stolen in 2018 (USA TODAY “Your Data Was Probably Stolen in Cyberattack in 2018 – Should You Care?” published Dec 28, 2018) USA Today Article

In fact, the article states that in April, May, and June of 2018, there were 765 million cyberattacks — an increase of 47% over that period in 2017.  In November, Marriott announced the cyberattack that compromised nearly 500 million who had made reservations with them on or before September 10, 2018.  Yikes!

Think of how many ways my (and your) personal data is out there. Think about ALL those passwords I must remember just to gain access to my accounts. It is daunting. Even more daunting is reading about the billions (yes, I said BILLIONS) of people whose information was breached in 2018 due to cyber criminals. If that weren’t enough, I received a notification from Caribou about a data security incident right before Christmas. So, what are some of the best practices to make sure you are protected in this age of technology and instant access?

  1. Use Unique passwords.
    1. Don’t use the easy “password”, like 12345 or 99999.
    2. Make your passwords stronger by adding letters, numbers, and symbols.
    3. Try not to use personal information such as family members names or the street you live on.
    4. While a good password needs to be difficult, it should also be something you will remember.
    5. Another good tip is to not reuse a password over and over.
    6. DO NOT forget about your Voicemail Password. Did you know that most business toll fraud happens because the hackers get in through a generic voicemail password on one of the phones on your system (such as 1234)? Make sure everyone who has a phone in your company knows this and doesn’t use consecutive numbers, repeating numbers, their extension number or the last 4 digits of their direct dial number as their password. This just makes your business an easy target for hackers and what could be hundreds or thousands of dollars in toll fraud charges to your account.
  2. Try using a password manager such as Lastpass or 1password. All you need is to remember one master password. In addition, turn on the two-factor authentication whenever possible to make it more difficult for hackers.
  3. Do regular software updates on your devices. There are known reasons why the software companies are constantly pushing through updates. Running those updates as often as possible will help reduce your risk.
  4. Always be on the lookout for suspicious emails. Even when I received the Caribou email, I was a bit leery. I logged into my Rewards account to see if there was a notification there instead of clicking on the link in the email. The data breaches usually compromise your name and email address, at the very least, so the attackers will start phishing emails to cause an attack on your system.
  5. One last piece of advice was to limit the amount of personal information you give out. If the retailer is asking you for your email or home phone or even your zip code, the best practice is to politely decline.

2019 is a New Year! How about we all do our part in keeping our information protected and safe? Let’s arm ourselves against those cyber attackers and security breaches!

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