Staying ahead of hackers a constant struggle

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

With more and more of our transactions taking place online, it's no surprise that criminals are becoming more and more adepts of following the money -- and seeing that it finds its way into their hands.

The latest example is Duncan Aviation in Lincoln, which reported that someone hacked into the banking account of a shareholder -- no explanation as to why the shareholder had Duncan Aviation money in his personal banking account -- and stole $135,000.

The theft occurred sometime in late September or early October, and police are working with other banks, where the money may have been transferred, to try to solve the crime.

Most of us don't have that kind of money in our banking accounts, but that doesn't mean hackers wouldn't love to steal whatever money we do.

While most banks have multi-levels of security built into their online systems, most of us, unfortunately, allow the public multi-levels of access to personal information.

If we use easy-to-remember passwords keyed to that personal information, we're making it that much easier for criminals to access our cash or steal our identities and ruin our credit.

For instance, if you use a family member's name and age for a password, is that information available on your Facebook page?

Likewise, your hobbies, is your Twitter handle a reference to that hobby?

Do you use the same password across many websites, such as your email, bank or credit cards? Hacking one account leaves you vulnerable to theft.

Some tips:

* Never use personal information such as your name, birthday, spouse's name or other publicly available information.

* If you do write them down, keep them in a secure place, and/or "encrypt" them in a form others won't be able to understand.

* Again, don't use the same password for each account.

* Try to include numbers, symbols and both uppercase and lowercase letters if possible.

* Avoid using works that can be found in the dictionary.

* Random passwords are best, try using a password generator or a memory trick to remember a random difficult passwords.

* Consider using an online password manager or smartphone app to keep your passwords secure -- but maintain tight security with those sites and apps as well.

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