A security breach at City Hall in Charlottesville has affected at least 10,700 current and former utility billing customers and their personal information. Sensitive data that was compromised includes customer social security numbers, addresses, and drivers license numbers.
The breach was discovered while investigating a completely unrelated phishing scam the city had launched back in May of this year. However, Charlottesville officials claim that they do not believe any customers’ information has been misused, nor has any money been lost. There is no major threat at this time.
The city is working with a team of lawyers and cyber security professionals, and is in the process of notifying all compromised customers of the breach. Additionally, current employees are receiving more cyber security training to help avoid future issues like this from happening.
This local breach further pushes the importance of cyber security awareness in both business and personal online usage. It CAN and DOES happen here at home. We want to make sure you are aware of what to do and especially how to prevent instances like this from happening to you.
Here are 5 preventative steps you can take:
1. Use strong passwords.
Don’t repeat passwords on other sites and always change passwords regularly. Make them complex and hard to guess by using a combination of at least 10 letters, numbers, and symbols. A password management app can help you do this.
2. Maintain updated software.
This is especially important with your operating systems and internet security software. Cybercriminals often use exploits in your software to access your system. Patching those can reduce the likelihood that you’ll become a target for cybercrime.
3. Be cautious of phishing.
According to the 2018 Verizon DBIR report, phishing is responsible for 32% of current breaches and 78% of cyber-espionage incidents. Hackers are commonly known to begin their attacks through phishing campaigns. If you ever receive any unsolicited calls, emails, texts, or chats, do NOT respond or click on any links before confirming it is legitimate.
4. Strengthen your networks.
It’s a good idea to start with a strong encryption password as well as a virtual private network. A VPN (virtual private network) will encrypt all traffic leaving your devices until it arrives at its destination. If cybercriminals do manage to hack you, they won’t intercept anything but encrypted data. It’s a good idea to use a VPN whenever you use a public Wi-Fi network as well.
5. Train your employees on cybersecurity awareness.
A business is never secure unless everyone within the business knows how to recognize and prevent cybercrime. Share this article with your employees, and go the further step to enroll them in training (such as what we offer here at PJ Networks). Awareness is everything!
5. Stay updated on major security breaches.
If you do business with a merchant or have an account on a website that’s been impacted by a security breach, find out what information the hackers accessed and change your password immediately.
Further Reading: https://www.nbc29.com/story/41099685/charlottesville-data-breach
Some cyber security tips via: https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-how-to-how-to-recognize-and-protect-yourself-from-cybercrime.html
Stay safe out there!
- The PJ Networks Team