Sikorski Offers Data Privacy Tips in Light of Recent Rash of Breaches

Target, Home Depot, Staples, and JP Morgan Chase.  The list of companies falling victim to massive data breaches continues to grow at an alarming rate, and consumers are becoming increasingly nervous about the security of their personal data…rightly so.

Sometimes cyber attacks are sophisticated and extremely difficult to prevent.  Other times, an ounce of common sense can be your best defense against the ever-increasing threat to your most private and critical personal data.  Yes, it is true, there are three kinds of people; those who have been notified that their personal data has been exposed, those whose data will be compromised in the near future, and those whose data has been stolen, but they just don’t know it yet.  You might be surprised at how a few simple steps can dramatically reduce the threat to your confidential information.

IMG_20140807_000256[1]What can you do to minimize this looming risk?  That was the question posed by Fox New’s reporter Tisha Lewis when she interviewed our very own Jared Sikorski recently, at our 4Discovery offices in Chicago.  Many individuals, confused and overwhelmed by the mystifying world of digital security and computers in general, simply choose to do nothing…hoping their coveted personal information will somehow escape the attention of data thieves.  This head-in-the-sand approach is a mistake, and unnecessary.  The good news?  Jared’s advice was refreshingly simple and easy to implement.  I have shared a few of the takeaways from his interview (and a couple other best practices) below.  You can also view the full interview at the link provided.


“Common Sense” Data Security Take-Aways

1.  Sophisticated (long) Passwords.   I know you are saying to yourself… “no kidding, duh!”  But many still use short and easy to remember passwords for obvious reasons.  Don’t do this!  Use passwords that are at least 8 characters long and include letters, numbers and special characters.
2.  Use Unique Passwords for Your Various Accounts.  Do not use the same password for Facebook and your Citi Bank account.  If a data thief steals your Facebook password he may try to use it for a wide array of automated log-in attempts for a number of financial institutions, perhaps getting lucky when he assumes you may have an account at Bank of America, Charles Schwab, Chase, etc.  Don’t be lazy, use multiple passwords.
3.  Change Your Passwords Often.  Yes, it is a pain.  Just do it….every three months.  Having trouble remembering all your passwords?  Consider some of the easy (and some free) password management apps that are available.  Check out LastPass 3.0 and RoboForm.
4.  Keep Your Internet Security and Anti-Virus Up To Date.  These tools are necessary, effective, and almost certainly installed on your computer already. But are you regularly updating them?  You must do this to stay on top of the most recent improvements and updates…this will help keep you ahead of the bad guys.
5.  Watch That Smart Phone!  Think about it…you have tons of important information on that little 5-ounce computer you carry everywhere; bank account numbers, confidential e-mails, maybe even a list of your various passwords, or your child’s daycare center location. But do you even bother to secure this data?  Leaving a smartphone on a commuter train is not just the beginning of a bad day, it can expose your most sensitive info….an identity thief’s dream come true.  Use the most sophisticated locking password your phone allows, (not just the 4 digit default), and make sure you have enabled the remote data wiping feature so you can erase your smartphone if it is lost.
6.  No “Phishing”!  You have seen these…legitimate-looking emails from a financial institution, perhaps even (coincidentally) a place where you do your banking.  These emails may ask you to update your security by clicking a link and “logging-in” with your username and password.  This is a scam that seeks to hijack your password, so do not click on these links.  Check the URL and make sure the sites you visit are legitimate.

Watch Jared’s full interview here!