Three major brands hacked since Oct. 1, 95 percent of all bad links trigger a breach

TDS® compiles tips to protect your online identity.

Midway through National Cyber Security Awareness Month and already three well-established brands have reported being hacked. To help educate consumers on ways to protect their online identity, TDS Telecom (TDS®) has compiled a list of tips and resources.

The first tip from TDS: don’t click on bad links. According to Intel, 95 percent of all security breaches are created when someone clicks a bad link. They come in emails, texts, social media posts, and online search results. How can you tell if it’s a bad link? Place your cursor over the hyperlink. If the location isn’t revealed it may be a bad link. Another hint: if an important email from your bank refers to you as “dear valued customer” instead of by name, it’s probably not legitimate.

“Online safety is critical,” says Andrew Petersen, vice president External Affairs and Communications at TDS Telecom. “Equally important is knowing what to do if your accounts are breached or compromised. We want our customers prepared to know how and what to do, just in case.”

According to StaySafeOnline.org, to stay safe and be more secure online everyone should:
Keep a clean machine: Keep software up-to-date on all Internet-connected devices to reduce risk of infection and malware.
Get two steps ahead: Switch on two-step verification or multi-factor authentication, wherever offered, to make your accounts more secure. This process asks for a user name and password plus another form of identification, such as a security code.
When in doubt, don’t click it, delete it: Links in email, posts and texts are often the primary way cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices. Since 95 percent of all bad links trigger a breach, it’s safe to say, when in doubt delete.
Think before you download apps: Before you hit “accept” read the terms and conditions. Be sure you understand and are comfortable with the information (i.e., location, your contacts, social networking profiles, etc.) the app will access and share before you hit “download.”
Use better passwords: Improve your defenses by making passwords hard to guess by including a combination of numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and symbols; create different passwords for all accounts.

“In addition to online security safety, consumers should be aware of data breaches and the possible impact on their credit score,” says Petersen.

This month alone, three national brands have reported data breaches. JP Morgan Chase reported 76 million households and seven million small businesses were impacted. Kmart reported a data breach at 1,200 stores, while Dairy Queen confirmed payment information was compromised at 395 restaurants in 46 states.

If you are the victim of a security breach, the Michigan Attorney General offers three “must-do” tips:
1.Place an initial fraud alert on your credit file with the three credit reporting agencies. A free, 90-day service, fraud alerts are provided by federal law to help minimize the risk of someone opening an account in your name.
2.Consider placing a security freeze on your credit file. This fee-based service will immobilize your credit file. Only you can thaw it by providing a pre-established personal identification number and paying another fee. 
3.Take advantage of free credit monitoring services if offered by the brand experiencing the breach. While the free monitoring may only be available for a limited time, it should provide peace of mind.

Read about more ways to become cyber savvy.

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Media contact: Cindy Tomlinson, Associate Manager-Public Relations / TDS Telecom / 608-664-4471 / cindy.tomlinson@tdstelecom.com

TDS Telecommunications LLC (TDS Telecom/TDS®) delivers high-speed internet, TV entertainment, and phone services to nearly 900 rural, suburban, and metropolitan communities across the U.S. With more than 1.2 million connections, TDS is one of the fastest growing technology companies in the United States. Powered by fiber-optics and new industry-leading technologies, TDS delivers up to 1 Gigabit internet speeds and offers internet-protocol based TV entertainment solutions along with traditional phone services. TDS also offers businesses VoIP advanced communications solutions, dedicated internet service, data networking, and hosted-managed services. Visit tdstelecom.com.

TDS Telecom, headquartered in Madison, Wis., employs nearly 2,700 people and is a subsidiary of Telephone and Data Systems, Inc. [NYSE: TDS], a Fortune 1000® company. Founded in 1969, TDS Inc. employs 9,400 people and has approximately six million connections nationwide through its businesses U.S. Cellular, TDS Telecom, OneNeck IT Solutions LLC, and TDS Broadband Service. TDS Inc. has been named to several Forbes lists, including America's Best Employers for Diversity, Best Large Employers, and Best Employers for Women. Visit tdsinc.com.

Updated February 2019

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