Data breachIf you’re currently signed up with Anthem Healthcare, then you’ve undoubtedly heard about yesterdays massive data breach, where nearly 80 million customers information may have been compromised. You’re probably now looking for ways to protect yourself after the recently reported breach by malicious hackers. Perhaps you have a business and you are afraid that you cannot protect yourself if one of the largest insurers in the world has trouble doing it. However, there are definitely steps that you can take to protect your data and your personal information from hackers.

The first step is the easiest: Do not overuse the same usernames and passwords.Most hackers are relying on the fact that you are lazily assuming that you will not be hacked at any point in time. People who do this we use the same username and password for account after account. On top of this, they will use words that are easily found through a personal search such as an old address or the name of a grandparent.If a hacker is able to steal your ID and password from another website, that hacker now has access to all of your accounts. Change all of your usernames and passwords to random, different character strings (nonwords).

Secondly, get a password manager that will help you to accomplish step one.

If you do not have the time to change all of your old usernames and passwords, a password manager can help to automate this process. You may have trouble finding all of the usernames and passwords for all of your old student loan accounts, online banking accounts, Twitter accounts, etc. Most of these passwords and usernames will be very close variations of each other, making them easy fodder for a hacker to guests and steal.

A password manager will be able to randomize your usernames and passwords, keeping them secure from hackers by utilizing the latest in encryption technology to give strings that are not easily guessed by the automated programs of malicious computer users. A password manager will also make sure that your usernames and passwords have no resemblance to any of your personal information such as your birthday, your address, your middle name, etc.

Third, make it a point never to respond to emails with personal information.

Even if you feel as though you know the person who is sent to an email, wait until you are in person with them to give out any personal information. It is actually quite easy for a hacker to go through your email list, create an email address with a name of one of your friends, and obtain your personal information through this con.

Under no circumstances should you be giving out your Social Security number or any other government information on the Internet. Government authorities often state on their websites that they will never ask for this information online. Hackers are assuming that you do not know this information or that you will be so upset from receiving an official looking email that you will just give up that information without thinking.

Fourth, get your credit reports in real-time.

Text alerts from your favorite reputable financial service will help you to keep a real-time eye on your financial statements and your credit card accounts. This is one of the best ways to keep from having anything stolen from you that cannot be immediately replaced. Even if a hacker is able to get into your financial accounts, it is much easier to prove to a bank that you did not initiate the fraudulent activity if you inform them of it in a timely manner.

By the way, put the fraud department of your bank into the speed dial of your phone immediately.

Fifth, take advantage of all of the free credit report checks that you have.

We highly recommend signing up for a credit monitoring service, following a major data breach like the one that just occurred with Anthem Healthcare.  Check out our credit monitoring review page here to find the right one for you. Because there are three major credit reporting agencies, you can actually check your credit for free three times a year, not once. Space out your correspondence with Equifax, Experian and TransUnion so that you always have an up-to-date look at your credit report.

Lastly, use two factor authentication on top of your password for added protection.

Usernames and passwords can be hacked no matter how complex they are. However, if you have to authenticate yourself through a direct message by phone or mobile app, hackers will have a much more difficult time breaking into your personal information or your financial accounts.

The mistakes of the health insurer Anthem do not have to be your mistakes. There is no reason that you need to live in fear of hackers stealing your personal and business information if you follow the steps above. No matter what, a smart hacker will always be able to break through even the most fortuitous of defenses given enough time. However, if you follow the steps above, you can stop them in their tracks at their point of entry. Also, if they see that your defenses are high, they will move on to an easier target, leaving you alone.