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Why the Internet broke on October 20.

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For several hours that day, access to several websites became severely limited. Here’s why you should care.

On October 20th, you may have had some problems reaching some of your favorite or most-used websites. And you may have heard about an "outage." The latest reporting suggests a big part of the internet was slowed (in some cases to a halt) that day, not by accident, but by hackers.

Web mischief through physical devices.

It appears hackers used security weaknesses in certain internet-connected devices — like security cameras and DVR players – to send a large number of signals to several websites. Those sites were unable to fully handle the signals, causing slowdowns and stoppages.

We're all connected.

Though affected sites are back up and running and specific security weaknesses have come to light, the October 20th attack serves as an important reminder: cybersecurity threats can come from anywhere, in all kinds of new forms. With that in mind, here are 3 smart steps you can take to help protect yourself:

  1. Secure your home Wi-Fi. Pick a really strong password and don't share it. One of the ways hackers wreak havoc and steal personal information is through breached or unsecured home Wi-Fi networks.
  2. Update your internet-connected devices. Anything you use that connects to the web should be regularly updated with the latest software. It could be as basic as installing the latest update on your smartphone or home computer or as advanced as updating the software on a smart-home device like a camera, thermostat or alarm. These software updates may help patch up security weaknesses.
  3. Be smart on the web. Change your passwords regularly, be careful about what you put on social media sites, and stay away from sites that don't have the green security lock and https in the browser window. If a site feels "off," trust your gut – it's safer to avoid it than it is to risk trouble.

Fortunately, the October 20th incident appears to be an isolated incident. But it served as a powerful reminder to take precautions.

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