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Cybersecurity October 31, 2023

How to protect yourself from data breaches

There have been reports in recent weeks of prominent organizations being targeted by hackers.
Cybercriminals can use the data obtained there to assault their victims, such as by accessing
their bank accounts and stealing money. In other instances, stolen data is sold on the dark web.
In the meantime, some organizations become victims of ransomware for which they are asked
to pay a substantial ransom.

These unfortunate occurrences are nothing new, but they emphasize the urgent need to protect
and educate oneself on matters of personal and collective cybersecurity. Due to the fact that
cybersecurity is a shared obligation of all members of society, it is essential that you collaborate
to protect your personal information.

Since cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, you also have a role to perform in protecting
your personal information. Here are some precautions you can take to ensure that your data
remains secure:

1. Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication

Before accessing anything, such as your bank accounts or social media pages,
passwords are typically required. Given that passwords protect something valuable to
you, it is imperative that hackers have a difficult time breaking them.
What, then, makes a password secure? This indicates that your password should be
complex in the eyes of a hacker, such as being lengthy (a minimum of 10 characters)
and containing a variety of numerals, lowercase letters, capital letters, and keyboard
symbols. In addition, it is essential to routinely change your passwords to prevent
hackers from guessing them.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) can provide an extra layer of security when passwords
are not entirely foolproof. Before you can access your accounts or authorize a
transaction (e.g., a wire transfer), you are required to perform additional steps, such as
entering a One-Time Password. Thus, even if a criminal obtains your password, they will
not be able to conduct unauthorized transactions on your accounts immediately.

2. Know signs of phishing

Phishing continues to be one of the most prevalent cybercrimes affecting the public. This
typically occurs when attackers trick victims into divulging their confidential information,
such as by posing as a legitimate institution (e.g., a bank) and redirecting them to a link
where they must enter their information.

When it comes to phishing, prevention is preferable to treatment. To avoid becoming a
victim, you must be able to distinguish between fraudulent emails and text messages
sent by fraudsters and genuine messages from a legitimate organization. Links provided
to you are also a red flag, as banks no longer include them in text messages or email
communications with customers.

In general, err on the side of caution when deciding whether to share information with a
stranger because you cannot predict what they will do with the information you provide.

3. Update your software systems

You may have received a notification on your phone or laptop to upgrade your system. If
you have a history of ignoring or postponing updates, you should stop right now because
software upgrades improve the security levels your device can give.

Software engineers run tests on what can be improved on the systems they deliver on a
regular basis. They frequently seek for flaws, such as what causes a product to slow
down. Looking for locations where hackers could exploit to steal someone’s personal
data is critical in their scope of job.

As a result, obtaining these software updates allows you to eradicate these
vulnerabilities, putting you one step ahead of hackers.

By following these simple guidelines, you can protect yourself from criminal entities attempting
to get your data in order to steal your hard-earned savings.