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Governors State's Fight for Cyber Security

Cyber Security Czar Steve Hyzny Offers Tips to Stay Safe Online

When it comes to cybersecurity, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that there’s no way to fully protect yourself online. But the good news is that you probably won’t be the one person in a million whose life is ruined by hackers, according to Stephen Hyzny of Governors State University.

“The amount of effort it takes and everything you’d have to do to be completely secure, most people won’t do it. Even I won’t do it,” said Hyzny, a lecturer in GSU’s Information Technology Program.

In fact, large corporations won’t do it either, he said. “It costs less to insure against the losses from a cybersecurity attack than it would to try to protect the system,” he said. And breaches of security are so common that they don’t make the news any more.

“If they listed every attack, you’d get tired of hearing about them,” he said.

A 2013 security breach at Target exposed 40 million U.S. debit and credit accounts. “People quit shopping there for a while, but then they forgot about it,” Hyzny said. “People will give up privacy and security for convenience.”

Hyzny also pointed to the Equifax breach, the 2017 hit to a credit reporting company that exposed the personal information of 147 million people.

“Your information is out there. You can’t get a new Social Security Number. And that information might not be sold or used for five or 10 years,” he said.

But Hyzny has a five tips, which he shared in honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, a collaborative effort between government, academia and industry to help people stay safe and secure online.

  1. Use phrases or song lyrics line for your password. “It’s easy to remember, and it would take months for an algorithm to guess.”

  2. Set up alerts for your credit card, so purchases show up instantly on your phone.

  3. Check your bank account online every week for any transactions you didn’t make. “Banks are becoming more helpful now. A lot of them will let you know if there’s a change in your credit report.”

  4. Watch what personal information you share on social media. “Don’t post stuff from the present. Wait till you get home. Otherwise you’re telling people you’re not in your house and they can break in.”

  5. Be diligent. “Watch, and hope not that one person in a million the hackers choose.”