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It Was Another Tough Year For Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity expert Diana Burley says when it comes to cybersecurity, do the simple things first.
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Cybersecurity expert Diana Burley says when it comes to cybersecurity, do the simple things first.

More and more of our lives are on-line now and keeping personal data private seems increasingly difficult with a new data breach every time you turn around. 

Last year, it was Equifax. This year, Facebook. 

And those high-profile breaches are just the tip of the iceberg. According to the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center, there were a record almost 1,600 data breaches in the U.S. in 2017. We don’t yet have the final tally for this year, but it seems safe to say it is likely to be even higher. 

What’s driving the rise in data breaches? And what can be done to make our online personal data more secure? 

“We like to say either an organization has been hacked and they are aware of it, or they've been hacked and they don't yet know about it,” cybersecurity expert Diana Burley told Living Lab Radio.

Burley is executive director and chair of the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection (I3P) and full professor of human & organizational learning at The George Washington University.

“It's not just about an individual entity or an individual organization, but the connectivity to their suppliers up and down their supply chain and their consumers,” she said.

How should we protect ourselves? Burley says do the simple things first.

  • Update your software. Often it’s not just cosmetic. The software developers have found a breach and have created a patch to fix it.
  • Use strong passwords and change your passwords regularly.
  • Don’t open emails or attachments from someone you don’t know.

Even these steps can seem overwhelming, Burley acknowledges.
“Certainly, biometrics are helping with… reducing the user fatigue,” she said, adding that it’s easier to swipe your thumb than to remember so many passwords.

“As it as an individual user, it can get to be a daunting task.”

Web post produced by Elsa Partan.

Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.