116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Business
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- More data breaches, including stolen credit card numbers and hacked personal photos of celebrities, has both individuals and businesses thinking more about cyber security.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller recommended on Thursday that Iowa customers of Home Depot monitor both credit card and bank accounts for any sign of unauthorized purchases. The company is investigation a possible data breach that could have put millions of credit card numbers at risk.
The attorney general also says consumers should take advantage of a company offer of identity protection services and credit report monitoring if the suspected data breach is confirmed.
Those involved in cyber security in Eastern Iowa say the recent incidents are a sign both individuals and companies need to think harder about how to protect their electronic data.
New Horizons, based in Hiawatha, is an Eastern Iowa company that teachers computer courses mainly for business employees. Britt Johnson, a cyber security trainer there, said they've seen an uptick in interest in the computer security classes since the highly-publicized breaches.
'Nationally, any time there is publicity about a security breach of the size and depth of the one recently we have more people taking security classes. And now that the media is picking this up … we've had even more inquiries about security classes,” Johnson said.
Johnson said consumers can't do much about the credit card security breaches except watch their accounts for fraud activity or ask their bank for a new credit card number. But one thing individuals can do is avoid both risky behavior online by not giving information to scammers and use more complex passwords.
Johnson demonstrated a software program used both by hackers and information technology workers to test password security. The program was able to crack and decode simple passwords in under five seconds. But more complex passwords with a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols could probably hold out against such a brute force hack attack for days.
Johnson said that would be more than enough time because the typical hacker will move on to an easier target if it takes too much time.
Barbra Bateman, owner of Barb's Computer Service, agreed some consumers are becoming a little more sensitive to cyber security needs. And she reminds all about virus protection and other safeguards.
But Bateman also said that's still the exception, and not the rule, and too many people still fall for the same old electronic scams.
'The phone calls from people claiming Microsoft is calling. All I can tell people is beware if somebody calls you, don't take the call because they're probably out to scam you,” Bateman said.