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Equifax Data Breach: What You Need to Know to Protect Yourself
Posted September 12, 2017
By Connected Nation

Last week, another large data breach affected nearly half of all Americans. Equifax reported that hackers obtained personal information from 143 million U.S. consumers. Though details on the extent of the breach are still coming out, it’s a reminder of the risks that consumers and businesses face each day due to data breaches, and the steps that each of us can take to protect ourselves.

Hackers were able to get names, social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and, in some cases, driver’s license numbers. Many experts are labelling this data breach as possibly one of the worst and most severe to date. A credit card can be canceled. A password can be reset. But your social security number and birth date are for life. If you are a victim, your information may no longer be protected.

Are you a victim of the Equifax data breach? 
Find out at www.equifaxsecurity2017.com. Don’t go to the site unless you are using a secure computer and Internet connection. If the website suggests you are a potential victim, you are encouraged to sign up for credit monitoring, which will be provided free for one year. However, this is a lifelong challenge, so you should consider a crediting monitoring service for the foreseeable future.

The breach should be an additional reminder of our vulnerability to data breaches and that each of us should be taking steps every day to secure our personal lives and our businesses. You may say it costs too much to secure yourself and network. Below are five relatively simple steps that everyone can implement for little investment.

1.    Create a security policy. Every business should have a security policy. Without first having a policy, you don’t really have a security plan or strategy.

2.    Install anti-virus/anti-malware software on each computer. It is very inexpensive and will provide some basic protections.

3.    Use STRONG passwords. Many data breaches are a result of weak passwords.

4.   Utilize two-factor authentication when possible. An example of this is requiring a text message to authenticate who you are.

5.    Provide employee training. Employees are always the first line of defense. Making them part of the security strategy is always a good idea.

 

About the author: Michael Ramage (pictured right) is the Director of the Center for Telecommunications Systems Management (CTSM) at Murray State University.

CTSM conducts research in the various areas of technology and serves as a liaison between the academic and private sectors to see that a sufficient technology workforce is available. He can be reached at mramage@murraystate.edu or 270.809.3987 for questions or more information.

 

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