I shared two articles today regarding cyber security threats. The IRS announced a data breach affecting more than 100,000 people and a think tank said that the “Smart City” movement is lacking the safeguards needed to keep cyber criminals from disrupting critical infrastructure. A quote from that article in the New York Times sums it up very well — “Every day we depend more and more on technology. If that technology is not secure and protected, it will get attacked, and people and businesses will suffer the consequences.”
It seems like I am posting data breach stories every week this year, and I am starting to sound like Chicken Little. While the sky is not falling, we are in a time when we are losing control of not only our personal information, but also our personal finances. It is not paranoia; the Internet crooks really are out to get us.
My personal information was one of many in the health care data breach earlier this year. Many people have been affected in the past year by the data breaches at Target, Sony, the NSA, the banks and the list goes on and on.
While the government, big business and security companies are all working hard to protect us, each of us should also work diligently to protect our own resources. We each need to take steps to create our own security.
I personally use a separate and unique email address for any web site containing personal log-in information with sensitive information (e.g. banks, credit cards, etc.) I make it a habit to change not only the password but also the log-in name on these accounts twice a year – New Year ’s Day and July 4th (as these holidays are about six months apart and because I usually have the time to do this work on these holiday weekends.)
I urge you to remember to take these steps yourself. You must consider yourself to be the first line of defense against these crooks. While it won’t stop every breach, it will at least give you some protection if your log-in credentials are stolen.
I know it is a pain to go through this exercise, but your pain will be far greater if your information is stolen!