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Online security: Tips to make you less vulnerable to internet theft

A marketing campaign on Facebook has been linked to a data breach of Novant Health patient information. Here's how you can protect yourself from online threats.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This week, patients with Novant Health were told the hospital suffered a data breach through a tracking tool linked to a Facebook marketing campaign in 2020. 

The information that may have been stolen could include patients' email addresses, phone numbers and other contact details. So what can you do to try and keep your information safe when it comes to a data breach or cyberattack

"These ransomware gangs or cyber threat actors are looking for easy targets where they can leverage the most pain and generate the most revenue for them, and as quickly as possible," Steve Cobb, the chief information security officer for One Source, said. 

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Cobb said companies should have a plan in place because hacks are prevalent these days. 

"The idea should be, 'what is our incident response plan? What are our backup and recovery steps like?'" Cobb said. "How would we recover from an incident that may take our entire network or our entire computer system down?"

Employees should be trained in what to look out for, too. Basically, if you see something, say something. 

"Be on the lookout, be suspicious of things like emails that come in," Cobb explained. "We see a lot of these activities initiative via phishing attacks."

Something companies and individuals can do on their own is implement two-factor authentication. That's like when your login requires a push notification or texts you a password to access an account online. 

"Those kinds of things that go beyond a password, so that you've got to do multiple steps in order to authenticate it to your bank, your financial systems or your computers," Cobb said. "Those are things that we recommend organizations really take time out and start putting some of those pieces in place now."

Keeping your data secure is also a good item for your back-to-school checklist. New data shows ransomware attacks impacted more than 950 colleges and schools in 2021, including Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte. 

In all, those attacks cost schools more than $3.5 billion in downtime. 

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