Defending your data

We live in a world where your personal information is always at risk of being stolen. Widespread data breaches have touched nearly every sector of our society and eroded our internet security. But understanding how these data dumps work—and how you can monitor your own information-- can help keep your personal information safe.

What can I do to protect myself?

First Tech has plenty of resources to help keep your information safeWe also want to help you be proactive about staying secure by providing more ways to take the protection of your online data into your own hands.

Follow password best practices

It is key to your security to use separate accounts and passwords for every account that you access--especially email, online banking and other financial accounts. The risk to personal accounts is high, given the size of the data collection and the fact that most people use the same username and password to access multiple sites. This creates a powerful tool for unskilled hackers to simply plug in previously leaked usernames and passwords on any public website, hoping that people have reused passwords. 

Consider using multifactor authentication

The use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) is highly recommended. Linking your cell phone as your MFA device is safer than using your email address, given than it’s very possible that your email information could be stolen. MFA adds a layer of security to your account by preventing fraudsters from only using a stolen password to access your account and providing you with real-time alerts when your information is accessed. 

Be aware of malware

Malware attacks typically target popular software applications and web browsers, and often take advantage of security weaknesses inherent in outdated software versions. Be especially careful if you receive links or attachments from unexpected or untrusted sources. These are usually sent via email or messenger application, and can install malware that takes information from your phone or computer. Some malware can monitor your keyboard and screen activity, compromising any personal information like passwords or account numbers that you type or view.

Install both anti-virus and anti-spyware programs to protect yourself, and keep them up to date. Also, check your phone, laptop and any other devices to ensure they are up to date with the latest software versions, security updates and patches.

Know if you’ve been impacted

There are several ways to see if your information has been included in any known data breaches. Have I Been Pwned uses your email address to tell you whether or not your personal information is lingering on the internet.  You can also check Hasso-Plattner Institute’s tool to see if your data has been included in any breach. This tool scours the web and sends the results to your email address.