With most of our life online, how can you protect yourself from a cyberattack?

Technology

(WTNH) — Companies across the country are weathering major cybersecurity attacks, from the Colonial Pipeline to meat producer JBS SA.

Connecticut has seen our own large-scale attacks recently, including at the DMV and against an outside vendor for Yale New Haven Health that took radiation machines offline for nearly a week.

So how can you protect yourself? Especially when nearly every shopping site, healthcare site, or COVID vaccine sign-up requires your date of birth, phone number, health information, or other very personal data?

“There’s a significant probability that the data that you think is confidential is going to be leaked at some point in the future. It can be five years from now, it can be tomorrow, or it can be decades from now,” said University of New Haven Cybersecurity Expert Vihad Behzadan.

Behzadan says we should all expect our information to be hacked at some point.

RELATED: University of New Haven professor details ‘deep fakes’ from hackers manipulating photos and videos

He suggests choosing a “fake” birthday that you use for all platforms, and setting up an internet phone number with software like Google Voice instead of giving out your personal landline or cell phone number.

“I know it can be a hassle but in some cases, it may be worth the extra effort. I’m not encouraging lying on the forms–I’m encouraging mindful control of what information you share,” he explained.

That’s what we as consumers can control, but we are forced to rely on companies to beef up security on their end as well, both to prevent data leaks and to stop disruptions to the daily lives of millions of people.

“Over 25% of our businesses, particularly small businesses, have experienced a cyber breach and many of them are not prepared,” said State Rep. Caroline Simmons (D-Stamford), who submitted a bill that would give some liability protection to small businesses who put in place cybersecurity measures. The bill has passed the House and now heads to the Senate for approval.

“We don’t want to be putting a mandate on businesses right now, but we want to be incentivizing them to do this good cyber hygiene because we know cyberattacks are increasing rapidly especially since the start of the pandemic,” said Simmons.

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