How to Protect Yourself Against the next Major Hack

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  • tech-112811-001-617x416300Earlier this month, Anthem, a major health insurance provider, announced that its computer systems had experienced a major breach of security, exposing the private information of over 80 million individuals. The company found that a “very sophisticated external cyber attack” gave hackers, perhaps Chinese, state-sponsored attackers, access to people’s sensitive data, including names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, addresses, e-mail addresses and employment information.

    In November of 2014, Sony was the victim of another massive hack in which attackers gained access to countless intra-company e-mails and memos as well as confidential financial information and even copies of yet-to-be-released films like The Interview. The hack was a major setback for the global conglomerate, which eventually turned political, bringing US intelligence forces in to investigate.

    Here are some tips to protect yourself from the future hacks that, unfortunately, are bound to happen:

    1. Scorched earth

    An extra measure you can take to protect your online and real identity is to shred mail and account statements before throwing the paperwork in the garbage bin. There are still “primitive” identity thieves out there who rifle through trash in order to get at individuals’ credit card or bank account information

    2. Taxes

    When submitting taxes, people should be especially conscious of protecting personal information. Identity thieves have been known to submit fake tax returns filed in other people’s names. One could use electronic tax filing instead of the traditional paper forms – electronic files are processed faster.

    3. Be vigilant

    From now on, be more cautious about the e-mails you receive and the links you click on. There are many “phishing” schemes out there, where hackers try to implant viruses and Trojan horse bugs in to your computer through links. If you receive an e-mail asking you to click a link or log into a particular account, do not click the link. Visit the website in question from a new window and log in as you normally would. Also, do not supply personal data to any website or account which asks for it. Do thorough research before replying to any such request. Be equally as vigilant with telephone calls asking for personal information.

    4. Sign up for identity theft protection

    Find an all-inclusive identity theft protection service that will provide you with regular credit reports and 24/7 assistance. Most companies charge a monthly price around $15.00 for this service. You can sign up for individual or household plans, without a contract or long-term commitment.

    5. Healthy protection

    An often-overlooked element of identity is medical information. Medical ID numbers, as well as Social Security numbers, should be guarded – thieves could use such data in order to create scams involving medical or insurance bills.

    In general, you should start cultivating a new vigilance when it comes to when and how you provide your personal information online and how to avoid scams which land in your virtual “lap.”

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    Howard McMillan

    Howard is a self proclaimed ueber-geek and has been contributing articles for TheMoneyExpert since June 2014. His experience spans more than five years covering business technology out of Silicon Valley. He loves talking about the latest mobiles and gadgets, so it is no surprise that his reports focus on web & mobile technologies, telecoms and networking. Howard studied Computer Engineering at the University of Manchester in the UK and he also holds an MA from Goldsmiths College.

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