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(WACO, Texas) – In a time of oversharing, some things are important not to share.

“We are teaching the students how to protect their data from the internet, and then in our fourth and fifth semesters, they learn about intrusion detection and penetration testing,” said Agustin Lara, a Cybersecurity instructor at Texas State Technical College’s Waco campus

TSTC’s Cybersecurity program is paying homage to Data Privacy Week, which this year is from Jan. 21 to 27. The week’s focus is to educate people on knowing when their personal information is vulnerable and how to build stronger protections for it.

“The type of data that is most important to protect is your personal identifiable information, such as your Social Security number, driver’s license number, anything that can be used to identify you and make actions in your name,” said Joseph Miller, a Cybersecurity student from Waco.

More than 30% of millennials and 40% of Gen Z members have reported being cybercrime victims, according to the National Cybersecurity Alliance and CybSafe’s “Oh Behave! The Annual Cybersecurity Attitudes and Behaviors Report 2023.” The report states that more than 40% of millennials and 50% of Gen Z members admit to using personal information when creating passwords. 

Lara said people should not share their passwords and should change them frequently. He said passwords should be vague but something familiar to the user.

“Make sure you throw in special characters,” Lara said. 

Allison Hope, a Cybersecurity student from Robinson, said it is dangerous to save passwords on computers, laptops and mobile phones.

Lara said spammers try to get people’s information from their mobile phones through text by sending packaging tracking information when the recipient knows they are not expecting any items. 

People should also protect their information when using social media.

“I know there are always people messaging or spamming and asking, ‘What is your birthday, what is your favorite color,’” Lara said. “They make them sound like friendly questions, and in reality those are (account) recovery questions.”

Multifactor authentication (MFA) can be a wall to keep personal data safe. About 70% of Americans use MFA, whether it is to log in to email accounts or video games.

Miller said he sometimes streams as he plays video games.

“You can be vulnerable, especially if you are logging in and you have your screen showing and you accidently leak a password or an email address,” Miller said. 

Spammers and hackers will do what they can to cause harm to others.

“They just want the data they can sell and data they can use as metrics,” Lara said. 

Lara said it is important for students interested in technology to pursue the cybersecurity field. More than 222,000 information security analysts will be needed in the United States by 2032, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

“As the world moves toward digital formats, our industry will still be on the back end and support that and make sure you are not losing any data,” Lara said. 

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