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DCH Health System’s ransomware attack is a great reminder showing companies and people around West Alabama how easy your data can be stolen.

University of Alabama Associate Director of the Institute of Business Analytics Matthew Hudnall said keeping your data safer is as easy as changing your password regularly.

“If you use the same password for every website, then hackers can have that from a past data breach and be able to be able to access other things like your bank accounts or your email accounts,” Hudnall said.

Websites like Have I Been Pwned (yes, it sounds a bit sketchy but is 100% legitimate) allow you to input your email address and see if any accounts associated with that address may be in danger of a data breach.

In general, passwords should be changed every six months or less. Most websites these days require passwords to contain lower and uppercase letters as well as numerals or special characters.

Password generators like 1password or LastPass are other potential avenues to ensuring you have better passwords.

Dual authentication, when it’s available, also helps ensure your online accounts are kept more secure.

But strong passwords won’t help if you click on a malicious link inside an email or on a website. Never login to a website through an email link. If an email sends you to an account login page like Gmail or your bank, close that page, go to the website itself and log in there.

If you’re tech savvy and feel like shelling out a few dollars a month, signing up for a virtual private network is another way to keep your data safe. Personal home or mobile VPNs like NordVPN or ExpressVPN won’t keep your passwords from being stolen, but they can help ensure your internet traffic is encrypted and can’t be accessed as easily.

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