By WVUA 23 News Reporter Gracie Fusco
This week, U.S. President Joe Biden issued a warning that the next move Russia makes may be an attack on Americans’ private information via the internet.
In a statement released by the White House March 21, Biden touched on how the United States is dealing with this widespread threat against U.S. infrastructure, major employers and even residents’ personal computers.
“The magnitude of Russia’s cyber capacity is fairly consequential and it’s coming,” Biden said in the statement. “The government is doing its part to get ready.”
You can keep your information safe by taking a few simple steps, said University of Alabama Culverhouse College of Business Associate Director of the Insitute of Business Analytics Matthew Hudnall.
“It is good to keep that information stored in a safe place,” Hudnall said. “Oftentimes in external USB drive disconnected from your computer, so if you get something like ransomware or something like that that compromising your machine, all of your information like your personal photos, tax information, sensitive information isn’t compromised.”
While saving your tax return information to your computer’s hard drive or the cloud sounds like a good way to keep it available in case you need it, that information can fall into the wrong hands with one sketchy link or password reset request. Consider pulling important data off your computer and storing it somewhere offline, but make sure it’s backed up in at least one extra place.
Another good tip many people ignore? Stop being lazy about passwords.
“Everyone should practice what’s called good cyber hygiene,” Hudnall said. “That means having nice, good complex passwords where you don’t use the same password for every single system.”
Password managers including OnePass or those associated with your web browser are designed to ensure your passwords are stronger than average.
If an app or web service offers multi-factor authentication, sign up. With multi-factor authentication, you’ll have to put in a password for a web service and then some other form of authentication, like a code texted or emailed to you. It’s an additional layer of security, meaning if someone gets your password, they’ll be unable to get into your account because they don’t have the extra code.
“A cloud-based backup is highly recommended so you don’t have all of your files on one machine, so if that hard drive dies or you get a virus or ransomware, all of your files are not lost.”
The White House has been urging everyone to use strong passwords, keep software up to date, backup important files and always think before you click.