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Protecting Your Online Information

August 6, 2014, 5:00 PM by Brady Mallory

Protecting Your Online Information

Forbes is raising questions about a company that warned people on Wednesday about hackers, allegedly behind a massive data breach. Hold Security - a Milwaukee based cyber security firm - claims Russian hackers have stolen 1.2 billion unique username and password combinations, and the thieves have more than 500-million email addresses. The article said the company quickly offered its services. While investigators find out if this is legit, this is still a great reminder to keep yourself safe online. It is not hard to find our information.

"We're out there every day, giving it away," Jessie Schmidt, Sioux Falls Better Business Bureau, said.

Which begs the question: Are we ever 100-percent safe from hackers?  Schmidt said, in this day and age, it has become almost impossible.

"We think the whole world is our friend. I don't know about you, but I have probably 600 Facebook friends. The reality is, I have a handful of really good friends, but we sure share a lot of ourselves," Schmidt said.

There are ways we can better protect ourselves. Schmidt said we must monitor our bank and credit information, as well as our email accounts. The trick is to change your passwords, have different passwords for every site, and avoid using what is right in front of you.

"Don't use your kids' names, don't use your mother's maiden name.  Use an iconic thing, like the first letter on a sentence you'd always use.  'I Will Walk My Dog Every Morning.'  What are those letters?" Schmidt said.

Security experts say internet users should assume their info has been stolen and change passwords frequently, but there is increasing concern passwords are not enough to keep personal information out of the hand of determined hackers. While more details have yet to come out as to whether this latest breach is real or actually a hoax, Schmidt said it is not bad that it is on our minds.

"All this tells us is we really have to be vigilant in protecting our own public information on the world wide web," Schmidt said.

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