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United States needs to step it up regarding cybersecurity

Posted In Security - By Techtiplib on Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 With 4 Comments

Consumers and businesses in the United States are experiencing cyberattacks at a staggering rate, placing ever-greater emphasis on effective password security practices. A recent Forbes report indicated that President Obama’s most recent State of the Union Address detailed the country’s plan to protect American computers from increased security incidents.

President Obama urged Congress to pass a bill that will give the American government more protective capabilities to dissuade future incidents, the report said. The initiative will be assigned to the National Standards and Technology (NIST), which will have one year to develop a thorough procedure to help firms protect themselves from cyberattacks.

United States needs to step it up regarding cybersecurityAlthough the bill is more geared toward protecting networks from hackers, the Forbes report detailed some tips on how consumers can keep their computers safe from sophisticated criminals. The source encouraged users to not neglect their passwords by using the same phrase for more than one account and to change their passwords frequently.

In addition to developing stronger passwords, the news source encouraged people to always have their firewalls, antivirus and computer software updated at all times. Hackers are known to take advantage of systems that are outdated, making it crucial that consumers stay up to date with new releases.

Clearly, hackers are wreaking havoc on many levels, but consumers do not have to go through the hassle of keeping track of multiple passwords for their accounts. Instead, industry professionals encourage people to adopt a password manager like Sticky Password so their online information is backed by sophisticated and strong passwords, making it that much harder for cybercriminals to be successful in potentially stealing a person’s identity. Recommended reading: Numerous password security breaches underscore importance of protection.

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Millions of Americans victims of identity fraud in 2012

Consumers that have stronger passwords by using a password manager are likely to experience less issues when it comes to identity theft. A recent report by Javelin Strategy & Research found that more than 12 million Americans experienced identify fraud in 2012, increasing by more than 1 million from previous research. Overall, criminals stole more than $21 billion in 2012, the highest total since 2009.

Jim Van Dyke, CEO of Javelin, said last year was a rough one for victims, while criminals had a joyous one.

“Consumers and institutions are now starting to act as partners – detecting and stopping fraud faster than ever before,” Van Dyke said. “But fraudsters are acting quicker than ever before and victimizing more consumers. Consumers must take data breach notifications more seriously and maintain vigilance to safeguard personal information, especially Social Security numbers.”

The report said that incidents involving Social Security numbers were the most severe last year, while credit card numbers were the most popular items used in identity fraud. Details like online banking data, passwords and user names were also popular targets. One of out of every four consumers who received a data breach letter ended up being the victim of fraudulent activity.

Small businesses are one of the backbones of the American economy, but many people are avoiding smaller merchants in fear of identity fraud. Javelin found that 15 percent of victims have changed their online behavior by avoiding such companies.

Criminals will continue to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers, but people can fight back. By using some common tips to protect their most important data, consumers can lower their risk of being a victim of identity fraud. Javelin encouraged people to store personal belongings in locked storage devices, shred sensitive documents, update security software, use passwords for their online accounts and avoid mailing checks to pay bills. 

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