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13 Things to Keep Yourself Cyber Safe

Keeping Your Finances and Identity Safe Online

HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) - It's hard to find anyone over the age of five now who does not use the internet in some form.

Every day, with that increased usage, also comes increased risk. Specifically in the form of tech-savvy crooks looking to make a quick buck by stealing your invaluable information.

We found a few quick cyber safety steps you can take that won't cost you a dime, but, could save you a fortune.

Marshall University professor, Bill Gardner specializes in cybersecurity. "As you can see, there are ongoing threats all the time," stated Gardner.

"Eastern European criminal gangs for example, have big buildings," added Gardner. "Instead of having an office job, they're actually either dealing credit card information or breaching credit card information."

Meaning, today's criminal has a new choice of weapon.

"Now, it's safer for someone to break into your computer than to break in your house, they are less likely to be caught and less likely to get shot," Gardner said.

But, their threat to you can still be crippling. 

"They can use your personal information to open up new lines of credit," he said. "Or, they could be looking to use your existing lines of credit."

Think you are immune? Cybersecurity company, Symantec says, in 2017 alone, U.S consumers lost over 19 billion dollars to cybercrime, and over 140 million Americans were hit by some form of malware, virus, spyware or phishing scam.

So how do you know if you have been breached? Bill suggests free sites like haveibeenpwned.com.

"It will see if it can find your email address or username and your password and will look for it in the breach data that's out there," he added.

So, we put it to the test. Like most families, Anita Byrd's spends many hours a day online.

We found two breaches, one with Adobe and another is a spambot with an IP address out of the Netherlands.

"That's weird," Byrd exclaims.

But the breach that has her most concerned involves her daughter's email address linked to the game Minecraft.

"With your daughter's email account, how does that make you feel?" Abney asked Byrd.

Byrd answers, "Kind of like a mama bear. Not overreact, but also, it just makes me a little more weary." 

So what's next? Gardner suggests:

  1. Changing the password for the email account or the service that has been affected in the breach
  2. Watch out for SPAM and Phishing attacks to the breached email address.
  3. Also, follow the most basic cyber security practices. 
  4. Change your passwords every few months. 
  5. Don't use the same one for multiple accounts.
  6. Don't share your passwords.
  7. Use an antivirus program.
  8. Check your credit reports and back accounts often.
  9. Use due diligence when opening emails, clicking on links or downloading attachments online.
  10. Turn on two-factor authentication for all accounts that support it. https://twofactorauth.org/ shows a list of site that support 2FA.
  11. Don't use words for passwords, use phrases with punctuation!
  12. IDENTITYTHEFT.GOV is a great resource and the first place people should go if they are the victim of identity theft.
  13. Visit ftc.gov/idtheft for prevention tips and free resources to share in your community.

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