HACKERS STRIKE: It’s a huge problem affecting millions of Americans

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SEATTLE — In the computer age in which we live, cyber hacking is a huge problem.

Mega-companies like Target and perhaps Home Depot,have fallen victim, and, in most cases, experts say, the cyber criminal is after your personal information — credit card numbers, debit cards and pin numbers.

Protecting yourself is possible if you know how.

Most of us handle some kind of business online every day — banking, shopping, medical, education. Many of us do it without ever considering risk. But we should.

"Cyber security, I think, is the biggest threat facing personal privacy, national security, and the national economy. It affects everyone,” U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan said,

Cyber criminals are working day and night trying to their hands on your personal information.

Perhaps no one knows the threat better than Durkan.

"One of the people we are prosecuting, we found on his computer somewhere between 1 million and 2 million stolen credit card numbers. That's 1 to 2 million people's lives,” Durkan said.

That is the problem and Chad Larsen is part of the solution.

He gets paid by large corporations to hack into their systems and find vulnerabilities that could put your personal information at risk.

Larsen says there are simple things you can do to protect yourself.

“Things like not accessing their banking accounts or their banking websites from public Wi-Fi. We certainly wouldn't recommend going to Starbucks and then pulling up your Bank of America application,” Larsen said

Larsen also says one of the biggest reasons hacking is successful, at least on a smaller scale, is due to weak passwords.

He suggests a hack-proof password -- a unique word or phrase that is hard to guess, but easy to remember and always check your computer settings.

Being just a little proactive, Larsen says, can help keep you safe from a big attack.

"When you`re following the best practices, you don`t really have to worry about an attack there. Doing things like maintaining your system, applying software patches, ensuring that your anti-virus is up to date. Those are all just good security hygiene and for most consumers that`s enough,” Larsen said.

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