How to protect your information amid record number of data breaches

5 months 2 weeks 5 days ago Monday, February 26 2018 Feb 26, 2018 Monday, February 26, 2018 9:48:00 PM CST February 26, 2018 in Continuous News
By: Emily Spain, KOMU 8 Anchor
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MOBERLY - Wesley Koenig has dealt with his fair share of hacking headaches. Someone stole his debit card number twice and his email account has also been hacked into before. 
"Panic was my first reaction because I know that they could take everything I had in my bank, they could access personal information, maybe take out loans in my name," Koenig said. 
Koenig got lucky. He contacted Yahoo and the company helped him get back into his account. His bank also worked with him on the cases when someone stole his card numbers to dispute any unauthorized charges. Koenig knew what was at stake if he didn't react fast.
"How am I going to pay bills if my bank account has been emptied? How am I going to get gas to go to work," Koenig said. "And you just have to bring yourself back down and calmed down and get it taken care of so you can get everything back online."
He's not the only one who has dealt with online pickpockets trying to steal information and money. 
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, there was a record breaking more than 1,500 data breaches in just 2017. Over 150 million social security numbers were exposed and along with more than 14 million credit and debit card numbers. Most of the breaches, around 60 percent, were caused by hackers.
"When breaches happen on the internet somebody hacks a company, the car dealership you bought your car from, you know, your local water district and they just download all the information," internet security advocate Jerry Gamblin said.
Gamblin said protecting your information online shouldn't be hard. It comes down to how much work you're willing to put into it.
"In the nicest way, it's people who are a little bit lazy, it's easy to have the same password on every website, and those are the same people who say nobody will ever hack me and then like they get hacked," he said.
Make sure you use a credit card online instead of your debit so hackers don't have a direct line to your bank account. And, think twice about where you spend your money and whether the sites you type your information into are credible. 
"It's risk and reward, right, like, is it worth saving $10 on that pair of shoes buying it from a website that you don't know that might take your money, might not have the best security versus paying extra $10 to shop on Amazon," Gamblin said.
Gamblin also suggests limiting the personal information you give out on your social sites like posting your phone number and email on your Facebook profile. If that information is public, it could be used against you to try to hack into your accounts. 
"It's insurance, you don't care about what's in your gmail until you find out somebody has read all your emails," Gamblin said.
Use a password generator like LastPass to come up with difficult passwords for you that hackers will hate. And set up two-factor authentication as another safety net to prevent someone from stealing your information. 
Still, there's a chance it doesn't matter what you do.
"It's much more important for companies to invest to protect everybody's data that they have."
Koenig said he's had enough and has this message for the online thieves, "Get a life."
For more tips of how to keep our information safe, click here for advice from the Identity Theft Resource Center.

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