The unprecedented events of this year have led to a rise in hacking events and cyber security concerns. With more people than ever working remotely, along with a contentious political landscape and other upheavals, criminals are taking full advantage of the situation. At least 86 percent of this year’s cyber attacks were motivated by financial gain, and hackers continue to target both large and small businesses. With that said, here’s what we can learn from three of the most infamous hacking cases in recent history.

Nintendo. Hackers obtained login credentials to more than 160,000 Nintendo accounts back in April, and throughout the year consumers discovered that their accounts had been compromised. Using stored information within Nintendo user accounts, hackers were able to place online orders and access sensitive information that could be used in future identity theft operations.

The lesson: Nintendo reset passwords for all affected accounts, and reminded users not to recycle passwords used on other online accounts. Remember to use random sequences of letters, numbers, and special characters. Avoid terms that are easy to guess.

The Veterans Administration. An employee who violated VA rules led to the theft of over 26 million veterans’ personal information. The information had been stored on a computer which was improperly taken home.

The lesson: Sensitive customer data is only as safe as your devices. Technically, if a criminal can access a work-related device, they don’t even need to hack into your network. Social Security numbers, names, address, birth dates, and credit card data is up for grabs when equipment is compromised. Make sure all work devices are secured physically as well as digitally.

Equifax. The Equifax breach of 2017 resulted in the exposure of nearly 150 million consumers’ private information. Investigators found that unpatched security applications were one of the primary culprits that allowed easy access to hackers.

The lesson: Your security software will only protect you when you install updates and patches when prompted. Otherwise, data remains exposed by known weaknesses in the system. Always install updates and patches immediately.

Do these three things reliably, and your odds of a security breach decline. But because network security can become complicated, we urge you to call us at 888-RING-MY-TECH if you have any questions.