Billions and billions—it’s only a matter of time before this becomes the number of hacking incidents in a single year, because just in 2014, over one billion records were hacked out of 1,500 different hacking incidents, says a recent report.
- A little over half the breaches involved credit card numbers, Social Security numbers and other personal information.
- Most hacking incidents occurred in the U.S.
- 55 percent of the incidents involved retailers, primarily affecting point of sale systems that lack encryption technology.
- The private sector, combined with the government, took up 17 percent of the hits.
The government has had it; the White House plans on devoting an office entirely to figuring out how to stay ahead of cyber crime. Let’s hope that the White House really dissects cyber attack technology.
What can consumers, the private sector, retailers, banks and the governments do to make it difficult for hackers to cause mayhem?
- Go through all of their passwords and replace the weak ones with strong ones. A weak password is less than eight characters (some experts advise that it be at least 12), contains actual words or names, contains keyboard sequences and has limited character variety.
Keep in mind that an eight-character password such as $39#ikPw is strong and superior to the 12-character 123qwertyTom. But maximize the strength by making the password at least 12 characters and a jumble of character gibberish. A password manager can do this all for you.
- Install antivirus software. This means antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-phishing and a firewall. Then make sure they are always updated. This software should also be installed on your smartphone and tablet.
- If you’re still using windows XP because you don’t want to part from your comfort zone, get out of it immediately, because it won’t be so comfy when your system gets dismantled by a hacker. Windows XP is no longer subject to security patches and updates by Microsoft. You need a version, such as MS Win 7, that receives regular updates.
- Your router has a password that’s been set by the manufacturer. Hackers know these passwords. Therefore, you should change it. Next, turn your WPA or WPA2 encryption on. If you don’t know how to do these things, contact the router’s manufacturer or google it. And unless you have encryption while using public Wi-Fi, consider yourself a lone zebra wandering around in the African savanna where prides of hungry lions are watching you. Get a VPN. Google it.