Oakland got hacked – and so could you. Here’s what to do if that happens

Oakland got hacked – and so could you.  Here’s what to do if that happens

Hackers posted reams of Oakland employees’ personal data online over the weekend, leaving many workers vulnerable to identity theft and reigniting longtime fears about cybersecurity in an increasingly online world.

Private data released by the hacker group after a ransomware breach of Oakland’s municipal network in February includes thousands of current and former employees’ social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, dates of birth and home addresses — information that could be used by nefarious actors looking to profit by opening fake credit card accounts and stealing tax returns .

Officials are not the only ones vulnerable to such attacks. Anyone can be a target, experts said, as hackers become more sophisticated and as financial transactions move online.

Here’s what you should know and how to protect yourself.

Take action immediately

Victims of data breaches should change their online banking passwords as soon as possible to protect financial data, UC Berkeley cybersecurity expert Davis Hake said. Keep a close eye on these accounts for fraud, he said. Be especially wary of phishing attacks—emails or texts that try to trick you into clicking a link or divulge sensitive information—or attempts to bypass multifactor authentication checks, a second layer of security for some password-protected accounts.

As a general rule, everyone who uses online banking accounts should update their passwords regularly – with fresh words and symbols. Avoid the temptation to change old passwords.

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“Lots and lots of personal data is already out there online from past breaches, so it’s important for everyone to practice good cyber hygiene on a regular basis,” Hake said.

Be especially wary of the growing trends in personal fraud, he added. Extortion schemes, home buying scams and compromised email accounts are among the biggest threats to internet users as more personal data becomes available online.

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