Once cybercriminals have access, they can steal personal and financial information, hold computer files for ransom, and hijack anything from webcams and thermostats to smart TVs!
Here are tips from Ready.gov for what to do to prevent and manage a cyber attack.
Protect your online profile
- Only connect to the Internet over secure, password-protected networks.
- Do not click on links or pop-ups, open attachments, or respond to emails from strangers.
- Always enter a URL by hand instead of following links if you are unsure of the sender.
- Don't respond to online requests for personally identifiable information (PII).
- Limit who you are sharing information with by reviewing the privacy settings on all social media accounts.
- Trust your gut — if you think an offer is too good to be true, then it probably is.
- Don't re-use the same password; choose a password phrase that means something to you and you only; change your passwords on a regular basis.
- If you see something suspicious, report it to the proper authorities.
What you can do if you are experiencing an online breach
- Check to make sure the software on all of your systems is up-to-date.
- Run a scan to make sure your system is not infected or acting suspiciously.
- If you find a problem, disconnect your device from the Internet and perform a full system restore.
- If you have anti-virus software installed on your computer, update the virus definitions (if possible), and perform a manual scan of your entire system. Install all of the appropriate patches to fix known vulnerabilities.
If you think your personally identifiable information (PII) is compromised
- Immediately change all passwords; financial passwords first.
- Restart your computer in safe mode and perform a full system restore.
- Contact companies, including banks, where you have accounts as well as credit reporting companies.
- Close any accounts that may have been compromised. Be alert or set up alerts for any unexplainable or unauthorized charges to your accounts.
- File a report with the local police so there is an official record of the incident.
- Report online crime or fraud to your local United States Secret Service (USSS) Electronic Crimes Task Force or the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
- Report identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission.
- If your PII was compromised, consider other information that may be at risk. Depending what information was stolen, you may need to contact other agencies. For example, if someone has gained access to your Social Security number, contact the Social Security Administration. You should also contact the Department of Motor Vehicles if your driver's license or car registration has been stolen.
- For further information on preventing and identifying threats, visit the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team's (US-CERT) Alerts and Tips page.
Ask a Connecticut Insurance Exchange agent about Identity Theft insurance. It's relatively inexpensive and could save you a lot of time and grief in the long run.