The latest incident of computer breach has people talking and asking, “How can I protect my computer from hackers?” One way to protect your data is to use passwords on all data. Passwords should be complex enough to thwart any attempt to invade your data. An article in the New York Times Newspaper included good advice necessary to avoid intrusion and corruption of your data. Complex passwords are a must. However, it is true that hackers can enter your computer, by using very sophisticated equipment, and they can use search digits and break your password code. Nothing is fool proof. So, in an attempt to protect your data, it is best to use a computer program to protect your information. I use Norton but there are also others that are very good tools to protect computers. The programs will notify you if a hacker has attempted to intrude your computer. Recently, delicate data, for an estimated one hundred-forty three million customers of Equifax have potentially been compromised.
The unfortunate consequences of cyberattacks are even more egregious, since most of us would never know we have been violated. Perhaps we should just presume that our data has been or at least attempted to be compromised. Cyberattacks happen daily and they are stealth, like a thief in the night. Concerning the most recent Equifax breach, the company is directing consumers to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact/ to determine whether their information had been stolen. Subsequent news casts have indicated that “clicking” on that site will result in opting out of any liability on the part of Equifax due to a “hidden” clause in the site. Do not go there.
Assuming that your data has been stolen from Equifax or any other location, you should notify Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The only defense is a keen awareness and being on the offense. Before a breach occurs, protect your computer. Choose a program that suits your budget and get protection. Without protection you are a “sitting duck on calm water.” It is suggested that you set up security freezes at Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Tell them to notify you if “anyone” requests information on your behalf. That will allow you to be in control of your delicate data. This will lock down your credit files permanently and will allow only companies currently approved by you to receive information. A request for information from a “new creditor” will be denied.
Now, change your passwords. Make them complex but save them in a safe place like your wallet. Otherwise, you may be blocked from reentry, if you forget the password. Password protection is a key to blocking hackers. Use numbers, capital letters, lower case letters and symbols to protect your data. Good advice: “You will have to treat everything you receive online with an abundance of suspicion, in case hackers are trying to trick you out of even more information.” Suggestions offered in the New York Times article include, “My favorite number is Green4782#; The cat ate the CoTTon candy 224%.” If you are extra paranoid, consider mimicking this setup. Take the sentence One time in class I ate some glue and convert it into this: 1TiC!AsG.” In general, create the strongest passwords for the sites that contain the most sensitive information and do not reuse them anywhere else.
Remember, NOTHING IS FOOL PROOF. Do your best to be evasive. Be suspicious of any email that asks you to “click for more information.” Be safe = Be Smart. A computer in the hands of a criminal can be deadly to your reputation, your finances and your peace of mind.
For more information, call Wilson & Wilson, PC, CPA, CFE at 615-673-1330 or email jim@ wilsonandwilsoncpa.com