Protecting Your Personal Information from Hackers - NBC Connecticut
Asking the tough questions and solving problems


Protecting Your Personal Information from Hackers



    Protecting Your Personal Information from Hackers

    Simply varying passwords and activating two-factor verification could save your information from hackers. (Published Friday, Sept. 12, 2014)

    While corporations like Apple and Google have a responsibility to protect their consumers, technology experts and statistics suggest users can do more to protect their private information.

    One of the most important things you can do is "have a unique password for every site that you visit,” suggests writer and tech expert Lon Seidman.

    The emphasis comes amid a cyber-hack that happened in early September, which leaked photos of various celebrities.

    Seidman adds that simply varying password is an easy, albiet tedious, way to further protect personal information.

    “There’s no security breach on these sites,” said Seidman. “it's just that they have a username and password combo that's working and unlocking the door to all of this stuff.”

    All that “stuff” ranges from personal photos to credit card information to your social security number.

    Hacking isn’t complicated for those who know where to look. Oftentimes, hackers look for glitches in password security systems.

    Users usually have a limited number of login attempts before getting locked out of a Web site. If a hacker catches a glitch in the system that doesn’t lock users out, the hacker can run a program that will try hundreds of thousands of password combinations within minutes.

    “And they were able to keep hitting it until one of those passwords was accepted,” said Seidman.

    He said the second most important thing users can do to protect their data is activate two-step verification. It’s available to all Apple and Google users, although it still hasn’t quite caught on to the mainstream.

    “In a nutshell, what it does is, when you log in with a username and password, it's going to send a code to your phone by text message or an app,” said Seidman.

    That code will expire after you use it, preventing people from getting into your information with just your username and password.

    “The application on the other end knows that you have something in your possession that validates who you are,” said Seidman.

    Apple’s two-step verification didn’t apply to iCloud when the celebrity photos were hacked. That has since changed, so everything in your Cloud has an added layer of protection.

    And if remembering several passwords and having to punch in a unique code seems like a lot of effort for one login, you’re not alone. Studies show most of us don’t take every opportunity to protect ourselves, at least, until something happens.

    “So yes, it’s inconvenient,” said Seidman. “You have to do a little bit of work to get it going, but you will be much more protected than other people will.”

    The Troubleshooters reached out to Apple, which referred us to a previous statement from CEO Tim Cook.

    “We want to do everything we can do to protect our customers, because we are as outraged if not more so than they are," Cook says in the statement.

    You can activate two-step verification for your Google account here and your Apple account here.