Ways to keep your personal information safe online

Posted at 5:53 PM, Oct 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-04 18:53:52-04

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — The massive Equifax data breach impacted more than 145 million people across the nation. 

And Yahoo, just this week, announced that all 3 billion of its accounts were affected by the 2013 data breach.

With it being national cyber security awareness month, here are a few tips to keep your personal information safe online. 

Victor Highfield is a recent graduate of MCC-Blue River’s cyber security program.

“I did military intelligence, counter intelligence when I was in the Marine Corps and so just the amount of information that can be disseminated off of your computer just kind of amazed me so I just started getting into that,” Highfield said.

When it comes to anything online, Highfield said he’s very old school.

“I go to the bank,” Highfield said.

While he does get direct deposit, Highfield said he doesn’t do any online pay. 

It’s something that may be uncommon for others.

Nowadays, everything can be done online, making breaches even more likely.

“We're so interconnected and you know whether it's swiping a card on multiple devices or using a phone or a tablet or a kiosk,” cyber expert and MCC-Blue River instructor Brian Hurley said. 

Hurley, also the program director of Secure Systems Administrations and Cyber Security programs, said breaches happen more often than people realize. 

“Sometimes as a society, we look to convenience and functionality, but privacy and security is often the tradeoff,” Hurley said. 

The website shows live cyber attacks happening across the world. 

“And it will show you each line that goes across the screen is one cyber attack that is publicly seen. These are the public live ones,” student Joshua Thomas said.

Here are a few things to look out for to make sure your information is safe:

Consider a credit freeze. 

“That prevents any new accounts that have to check your credit from being opened in your name,” he said. 

Check your statements regularly.

“A lot of times if your information was stolen, they'll try small amounts first to make sure the account’s valid,” Hurley said. 

Monitor your credit report, but also monitor your kids’ credit reports as well.

“People don’t know that when you apply for a student loan, say your child starts college and they've had an 18-year credit history because someone compromised their information at an early age,” he said.

Be sure to update your passwords regularly and make sure they're hard to crack. 

It’s something Highfield said he has no problem doing. 

“My school login is 30 characters long,” Highfield said. “People always give me grief and I'm like, try cracking it.”

Take advantage of two-step authentication to help prevent unauthorized access to your account. 

Hurley also recommend you file your income taxes early because thieves may submit returns under stolen identities to receive your refund before you file.