(WHTM) — October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month. During the pandemic, we became even more reliant on the internet, which has led to an increase in cyber attacks.
Which could cost you big.
The pandemic changed the way we used the internet. Since we were inside more, we did everything online, from grocery shopping to streaming to telehealth apps.
In fact, on average Americans created 15 new accounts during the pandemic.
“With that comes a lot of personal information: emails, phone numbers addresses, in some cases, social security numbers. And all of that data is really personal to you. When a bad actor gets ahold of it, they can cause a lot of damage,” Kaylin Trychon, a cybersecurity expert at Google said.
Cybercriminals can use that information to commit identity theft. Trychon says you need to protect yourself now, as once you become a victim, it’s too late.
“They can show up and be you, and that’s a really hard thing to fix once it’s happened,” she said. “Unfortunately, we know people reuse passwords across multiple sites and accounts, about 60% of people do that. The problem with that is if one of those accounts gets breached then that person has your password for many different accounts.”
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Password managers are a big help. Google will alert you when one of your passwords has been breached so you can change it immediately.
“It’s really, really important that people are taking the right steps to secure their accounts, doing good account maintenance. I know it seems tedious but there really is a benefit to just taking five seconds out of your day and going into something like the Google security checkup,” Trychon said.
Another pro tip is to use two-step authorization. That’s when on top of a password, you put in another code that’s sent to your phone.
“That dramatically increases your security and dramatically decreases a hacker’s ability to get your information because they may have your password but they don’t have the second step to verify that it’s you,” Trychon said.
You can even go a step further with a security key.
“You basically set it up and it’s used to authenticate you. You just plug it into your computer and every time you log into an account it will prompt you to touch the security key. You touch it with your finger and it automatically knows that it’s you, verifies it’s you and logs you in,” Trychon said.
It may seem like a lot but the goal is worth it.
“We’re putting so much information out there, we need to make sure we’re doing our part to keep it safe,” Trychon said.
Those security keys cost between $20-$50. Trychon also reminds everyone to be cautious of links sent to you through email, text or apps.