(WFXR) — It’s becoming a growing concern across businesses and individuals. Hackers are finding ways into our personal lives through our computers, building securities, and portable devices.

According to Mark Geary, Chief Information Security Officer at Spirion, the best way to protect yourself is knowing exactly where your data is and keeping good “cyber hygiene.”

On March 2, Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (CDPA) into law. This law gives Virginians the right to control how companies use individuals’ personal data. It was passed after there were concerns about businesses using or misusing personal data.

According to CDPA law, any business that violates the law could face fines up to $7,500 per violation. This law goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

Data breaches are the number one risk for businesses. Geary told WFXR News that as a company you should know where your data is being stored.

Virginia Tech reported a recent attack that happened on July 2, when hundreds of their computers were impacted by a global ransomware attack. It targeted Kaseay’s VSA software, which helps to monitor and manage computers and point of sale systems for thousands of companies worldwide. The attack impacted roughly 600 computers across the campus.

If you have been hacked, he says that it is best to report that information to law enforcement. Geary recommends that certain types of information should be protected.

  • Member name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Member identification number
  • Email address
  • Mailing of physical addresses
  • Telephone number
  • Banking account number
  • Clinical information
  • Claims information

Geary says that hackers are using this information for identity theft, duplication of credit cards, and carrying out fraud.

For individuals, it is much harder to pinpoint the hackers who are targeting you. Geary told WFXR News the best way to protect yourself is to make sure to back up your data onto an iCloud or a Cloud-based system. Then, if you are hacked, he said, “Kill the machine that we know where the data is on.”

You can also protect and prevent hackers from getting to your data with some quick and easy steps:

  • Protect your data at all cost, assume that people want your data and want to do bad things with it.
  • Don’t click on anything you aren’t sure of, whether it is an email or on a website.
  • Lock down everything.
  • Be aware of the type of technology that is in your house or business.
  • Train and understand technology based terms.

Geary also went on to talk about the safety of our cellphones and QR Codes. One thing he told WFXR News is to think of your phone as your wallet.

“Most people don’t encrypt their phone or put a password on it,” said Geary.

He noted that some best practice for your cellphone is to not stay logged into any apps. Geary also stated that between Apple and Android, Apple provides a lot more security, whereas the Android store has a lot more malware.

Consumers should also be aware of QR Codes.

“Anytime you can scan something, you have to assume there is a bad person that knows how to manipulate that process,” said Geary.

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