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What We learned From an FBI Guy About Data Security

We won’t disclose his name or show you a picture of his face, but we will share with you, some of the most eye-opening secrets he shared, about things you should never do, and ways to increase your chances of staying safe from hackers who want to steal your information.

Data security is an increasingly hot topic now, especially with the recent data breaches in the healthcare industry. Hackers are smart, and they want your personal information including your credit card data, social security number and health records. What’s really scary is that the reality of the situation can best be described in a saying from our government friend stating, “There are those that have been hacked, and those that don’t know they’ve been hacked.” So how do you stay safe from these savvy hackers?

Here are some secrets you should start implementing today.

1. Stay clear of free Wi-Fi. “If it’s free, it’s NOT for me,” should be your new motto. Free networks are a breeding ground for easy hacks. Many hackers will disguise their data-stealing networks with one that mimics one that you trust. An example of this would be when you see multiple networks with similar but different names such as Starbucks2 vs Starbucks1. If you fall victim to logging in to a fraudulent network, they can start hacking and stealing your personal information. Next time you’re at a hotel, airport, or local coffee shop, don’t trust the free Wi-Fi, use your data instead. While your data plan may be pricy, the cost of having your identity or personal information stolen is far more expensive.

2. Lock down your home Wi-Fi or you can be held liable if someone uses your network to commit crimes. Pick a tough password and change it often. Passwords need to be complex, at least 14 characters in length with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols.

3. Got spam? Have you ever been asked to receive or send money electronically by someone you don’t know? These offers are almost always scams and you can be held liable for a criminal offense if you follow through with the requests. Report such emails to http://www.ic3.gov/

4. Stop using your debit card to make purchases. Debit cards are incredibly more risky than using a credit card. Debit cards should be restricted for ATM use only. Because your debit card is tied directly to your checking account, when your information is stolen, real money is taken, unlike a credit card which is the bank’s money. While your bank may reimburse you for fraudulent charges on your debit card, you could end up waiting up-to two weeks for reimbursement.

5. You need a Company Security Policy- this policy should be handed out and signed by each employee so they are aware of what is expected of them. Expectations should include no passwords on post-it-notes, computers are locked down when employees are away from their desks, and employees shouldn’t open attachments or emails from people they don’t know.

6. Have a data breach plan. Are you compliant? If you’re unsure, be proactive and work with a team to uncover any risks or vulnerabilities in your network. A plan is vital, so that if a breach occurs, you’re not caught off guard and your plan should include your legal staff, media contacts, and staff members who understand your process. Practice your plan and host routine drills.

“Terrorism remains the FBI’s top priority. But in the not too distant future, we anticipate that the cyber threat will pose the number one threat to our country.” –Robert Mueller III, Former FBI Director. These hackers aren’t going away anytime soon, and educating staff is an easy and low-cost way to fortify your network. Host a monthly lunch and learn, teaching employees how to protect laptops and mobile devices. Being proactive versus reactive may not help you stay completely safe from hackers, but it does give you a better chance to decrease your risks. 



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Charlotte, NC 28217
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