Protecting yourself against cyber attacks

The latest incident involving actress Jennifer Lawrence has raised some concerns about security when using storage sites like the Cloud.

Experts say you may want to think twice before snapping that picture and storing it on an Internet-based server.

Jeremy Smith, Program Director and Computer System Specialist for YTI Career Institute in York says, you are never one hundred percent safe but there are ways to protect yourself.

“The longer the password, the harder it is for a hacker to randomly generate that. Using combinations of letters, numbers, special characters like an asterisk or a star or an underscore.”

Smith says lack of awareness is another issue. Many people just don’t know where their information is going or how the Cloud system actually works.

“It’s somewhere out on the Internet, which means it’s on a computer usually a big server somewhere rather than on your local machine at home or on your local hard drive.”

And that means that whether it’s pictures or banking information, your personal data is controlled by the service provider. If you can see the image in the Cloud service, so can the hackers. And once your information is on the Cloud — it’s on the internet forever. Even if you delete it.

The most popular providers are Apple iCloud and Google Cloud. FOX 43 reached out to Apple. The company issued a statement saying in part, “None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone.” Google has yet to respond to our request for comment.

External hard drives are another option. But Smith said, with a simple press of a button on your device, you can safeguard yourself from automatically sharing your information.

“On a lot of your devices there are various settings that you can turn on or off to increase the security. It might mean you ask a security question to try to access your data,” said Smith.

And the introduction of biometric technology Smith says, can possibly help prevent cyber attacks like this from happening in the future.

“Your phone will take your fingerprint, or facial recognition or scan your iris to recognize you one hundred percent so that somebody can’t hack into a password,” added Smith.

Until then, use caution before backing certain personal data.