How to Better Secure Your Online Data

Charles Stish, assistant editor

Arguably one of the most impactful and important technological innovations within the past 30 years has been the internet. Through this new communicative medium, the world has experienced the advantages of mass communication as, whether it be social, business, educative, or financial, people can perform almost every aspect of their daily lives online.

Yet, in light of the recent Equifax and other data breaches which compromised 143 million adult Americans, it is imperative PVCC students learn how to protect their identities and personal information.

According to Javelin Strategy and Research, one in every six consumers in 2016 were victims of identity fraud, which was an increase of more than 2 million victims from 2015. The Insurance Information Institute reports, “[Data] Breaches hit a new record in 2016, soaring to 1,093, up from 780 on 2015, but the number of records exposed fell to about 37 million from 169 million in 2015.”

“When your personal information is compromised, it’s not as simple as closing a credit card or account. With your social security number and full name, hackers can open accounts in your name, file a fraudulent tax return to receive a refund, use your information for medical care and provide your information in the case of a criminal arrest,” wrote Rebecca Cardwell, vice president of Community Relations at UVA Community Credit Union, in an online interview.

“It’s important to remember that there is no way to 100 percent guarantee that your personal information will remain safe. With that said, there are several low and high tech steps you can take to help protect yourself,” wrote Cardwell.

The methods she listed include: shredding any piece of physical mail with your address on them (like magazines, bills, and junk mail), monitoring your credit and bank account activity regularly, ensuring you do not share or transmit sensitive data (such as bank account information) through an unprotected public network, maintaining and updating operating systems and antivirus softwares on online-accessible devices, creating strong and hard to decipher passwords and regularly changing them, and avoiding friend requests, following, or accepting emails from unconfirmed and/or suspicious appearing accounts.

“Individuals whose information has been compromised should closely monitor their accounts, pull and review their credit reports and social security statement (ssa.gov) on a regular basis and, if they are on Medicare, check statements frequently. In addition, they should watch insurance statements, ‘Google’ their name to see if it is illegitimately being used, and most importantly consider placing either a credit alert or credit freeze on their credit report at all of the major credit bureaus. Most of these precautions are helpful for everyone to practice on a regular basis,” Cardwell wrote.  

Referring to what people can do to minimize their chances of being hacked online, Cardwell wrote, “Diligence is your best form of defense.” By properly researching online vendors and ensuring data is encrypted and secured when sent (such as https versus http), and always being wary of online interactions, a person can minimize the threat of being hacked.

“Again, there is no way to 100% protect your data given today’s cyber world. But by paying close attention to your information and accounts, and adhering to the security practices which we have just discussed, it can help protect or minimize the consequences resulting from identity theft and/or account fraud,” Cardwell concluded.

UVA’s Community Credit Union has a webpage with more in-depth and financially based information on this subject here: www.uvacreditunion.org/iamt.

You can learn more about credit freezes and reports here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/ blog/2017/09/free-credit-freezes-equifax? utm_source=govdelivery.

The UVA Community Credit Union is also holding the free seminar “Victim of a data breach? Now what?” on Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 12-1:30 p.m. in PVCC’s North Mall Meeting Room.

Anyone interested may RSVP by emailing PVCC’s Human Resource Analyst Takesha Ellis via her email: tellis@pvcc.edu.

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Posted by on Oct 10 2017. Filed under Campus News, Collegiate News, Events, From the Forum, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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