By Blake Powers

Protecting your personal information is challenging, and cyber security expert Dr. Murat Kantarcioglu of The University of Texas at Dallas says, “We are very vulnerable”, as reported by CBS 11.

According to Dr. Kantarcioglu, here are the Top 5 New Threats To Tour Personal Information and How To Protect Yourself:

1. Juice jacking – charging your phone at a public charging station could compromise all your data. The cables that you use to charge your phone can also be used to transmit data. Hackers can manipulate charging cords and steal your personal information directly from your phone. Public charging stations are growing in popularity at places like airports, shopping malls, college campuses and hospitals.

2. Fake hotspots – a coffee shop’s supposed free Wi-Fi hotspot may be a fraud, giving a hacker the potential to see everything on your screen. Security experts say when using free Wi-Fi for email, only log onto secured pages with a “https” in the address, plus DO NOT do online banking or send sensitive work emails from a free hotspot.

3. People searches  genealogy and people-search websites… can work in reverse! When websites ask you for personal info, and you give it, even in the form of answering questions to supposedly give you better results for your search, you could be providing personal info that may be used to build larger databases and more detailed personal profiles. .

4. Doxing – or “dropping docs” is when you goe online to find someone’s personal information (phone numbers, addresses, email addresses and personal pictures) then publishing this info online and encourage unsolicited harassment. The onslaught of harassment in many cases forces victims to changed phone numbers and email address. Dr. Kantarcioglu said start by making sure your social media accounts are set to “private”, “friends only” and periodically cleaning up your social media by eliminating older posts and pictures.

5. Ransomware  is one the most common ways for cyber criminals to make money, and once in a computer, it locks up or encrypts the files. A message then appears on the screen stating the files will remain locked until a ransom is paid, usually in bitcoin. In recent attacks, ransomware has been disguised as an alert from the FBI or an email from a shipping company. Dr. Kantarcioglu says back up all your files to an external device. In most cases paying the ransom will get you nothing.

Bottom line… think about who, what, where, when, why and how… when it comes to your personal info security. If you have to ask yourself, “am I taking an unnecessary chance?”… you may very well be.

Stay up on interesting, fun and even weird stories by following me at and my NEW Twitter page @987KLUVBlakeP

©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed


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