Hacker Reports Around the World
Should you lose sleep?
You’ve been hacked! A statement that will often cause a mad dash to cancel all credit cards, obtain credit reports and protect any vital information that could potentially be compromised. The process is simply exhausting and the aftermath can be devastating. With reports all over the news lately of incidents involving hackers in retail chains, in the entertainment industry and even our national government, is this something that we should be losing sleep over? Hopefully not.
Recently, several retail outlets and corporations have had their systems breached, causing thousands of customers to have personal information stolen. Sony Pictures Entertainment is probably the most talked-about hack in recent history, with 100TB of data stolen. The group that claimed responsibility for the attacks call themselves Guardians of Peace. Some information that was leaked includes: bonus salaries and emails of top executives, Social Security numbers, personal medical information, salaries, and performance reviews. Sony is being sued by employees in multiple lawsuits for not doing enough to protect their personal data.
Both Home Depot and Target had millions of customer’s credit and debit card information compromised. Home Depot had 53 million of their customer’s credit cards and/or debit cards stolen, making it one of the largest hacks known related to a retail chain. Target followed, having around 40 million of their customer’s credit card and debit card information stolen. In addition, the Home Depot hackers stole the email addresses and passwords of some of the victims, and the Target hackers sold the information that was stolen to counterfeiters who could paste magnetic strips that contain the stolen data onto fake credit cards, and simply swipe the card as if it were their own.
The popular auction site eBay suffered their biggest cyber attack ever in 2014. Hackers stole the personal records of more than 230 million users. Luckily, no financial information was obtained because it was stored separately, and was encrypted.
Should you lose sleep?
While there is not likely a need to lose sleep over the hacker reports, it is important to protect yourself. The situations previously mentioned cannot be prevented by the consumer; however, there are things that can be done to help prevent private information from being compromised. One basic strategy for keeping information safe is to change passwords frequently and use ones that cannot easily be guessed or cracked. Keys to keeping your password confidential are:
- Do not use obvious words or phrases.
- Change your password as frequently as possible.
- Do not use the same password at every site you visit.
- Use numbers where you would normally have a letter. For example, instead of using an, “e,” or “E,” use a “3.” Or replace an “O,” with a zero.
Other strategies include keeping the antivirus software on your computer active and up-to-date, and to be careful of the links you click on when browsing the web. Whenever you click on a link, make sure the address behind the link is valid. In most browsers, if you hover over the link with your mouse cursor, the actual address will appear in the lower left side of the window. If it is different than the link’s text, do not click on it. Regarding antivirus software, Microsoft offers their Security Essentials program for free. There are also many other free antivirus, spyware and malware removal programs readily available online.
There is not currently a way to keep you 100% safe on the internet at all times. But if you follow these instructions, they will reduce the chances of you falling victim to a cyber-attack and allow you to enjoy your sleep!