Preparation can reduce fear and eliminate cyberthreats

October is scary enough during the Halloween season, especially when my daughter dresses like a mummy. But the threat of data breaches or of viruses attacking my smartphone or computer can literally keep me awake at night!

If you’ve ever had someone steal your credit card information or suffered through technical problems with your favorite electronic device, you know what a pain these situations can be. Cyber Security Awareness Month gives us a reason to bring up the topic, but protecting our information is a year-round concern!

Don’t believe me?  Maybe a few of these statistics will get your blood pumping!

  • One in five Americans have been victimized by cybercrime.
  • A single infected computer can potentially infect thousands and even millions!
  • Cyberattacks increased 91 percent in 2013.
  • More than 552 million identities were exposed by data breaches in 2013.

You can do something about these eye-opening facts!

  • Be vigilant! Don’t think you won’t be a statistic!
  • Keep a clean computer by staying up-to-date on your security patches.
  • When installing software, proceed through installation wizards with caution. You can decline toolbars and other extra applications and still receive your intended program.
  • Roses are red, violets are blue, is your online password protecting you?
    • A strong online password has eight or more characters with a combination of numbers, letters and symbols.
    • Change your password often.

I’ll leave you with a little good news: the amount of spam we receive is down this year! On average, spam only makes up 66 percent of our email.

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About Matthew Brewer

Matt Brewer is Director of Information Technology for the Illinois Association of REALTORS®. He oversees network/system infrastructure and implements and maintains system hardware and software for the Association. He oversees technical training for the IAR staff and recommends and coordinates different technology uses for IAR departments.

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