Easy steps to protect your passwords, fight off hackers - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Easy steps to protect your passwords, fight off hackers

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From computers to smart phones, internet users are being hit with an ever growing barrage of cyber attacks. From computers to smart phones, internet users are being hit with an ever growing barrage of cyber attacks.
Glenn Derene Glenn Derene

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A well known problem is getting worse, and it impacts everyone with a computer or smart phone. A new study reveals a rising number of cyber attack victims and experts say data breaches at Target, Michaels and Neiman Marcus are evidence you are your last line of defense when it comes to protecting your personal information.

From computers to smart phones, internet users are being hit with an ever growing barrage of cyber attacks. A recent Consumer Reports survey revealed one in seven online consumers had their personal data breached in 2013. A 56 percent increase from 2012.

Yet despite a rash of high profile data breaches, Consumer Reports found 62 percent of U.S. online consumers have done nothing to protect themselves on the internet.

"People sort of feel, they don't know what to do," said Electronics Editor Consumer Reports Glenn Derene. "And they feel that their information and the protection of their information is out of their hands."

Derene said password protection is the key. He suggests nine characters, a mix of letters, numbers and symbols. He also recommends using different passwords for every account.

"We know that's kind of hard," he said. "And that's difficult to do. But it's also hard to install a lock on your home. And it's also hard to use a security system on a regular basis. And yet people do that because they understand the threat."

To keep track of your passwords use a service like LastPass. The program store all your passwords and is free for your computer and $12 a year for mobile devices.

LastPass also encrypts passwords in case their site was ever hacked.

If you don't feel comfortable doing that, try using one word in all your passwords, then surrounding it with different combinations of characters related to each individual account.

"If you just do a few little tricks for each site that makes it just variable enough that if somebody hacks one of those passwords, gets one of those passwords, they're not going to get instant access to every other site you use," Derene said. "Because that is the first thing that they try."

Anti-malware programs are also vital and you don't have to spend a lot of money. Derene said the free ones are usually fine.

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