If July 9, 2012 felt a lot like Jan. 1, 2000 to you, you're not alone. In the months leading up to the first day of 2000, computer users around the world learned about Y2K. Y2K was a supposed glitch that would cause potentially catastrophic results when computers attempted to cross over the century mark. Y2K came and went with nothing more than minor problems. On July 9, another scare was supposed to happen. In November 2011, the FBI announced that it had busted a group of Estonian cyberattackers that had infected more than 4 million computers. An estimated 500,000 of those computers were in the United States. Due to the nature of the virus, the FBI had to redirect the virus to another server until it could be uninstalled from infected computers. Any computer with the virus was supposed to be unable to connect to the Internet. July 9 came and went and only a small number of problems were reported.

Although these attacks failed to live up to their epic status, that doesn't mean that future attacks won't cause destruction. One U.K. cybersecurity firm called the amount of cyberattacks "astonishing" after telling the story of one U.K. business that lost more than $1 billion in revenue as a result of one attack. Here's how to prepare and hopefully avoid becoming a victim.

SEE: Identity Theft: How To Avoid It

Your Password
It's understandable that you want your passwords to be easy to remember, but that's putting your computer and possibly your finances at risk. Passwords should be at least eight characters; include a combination of numbers, letters and symbols; and not be words related to you. Instead, use a memory device. Use the first letter of each word and include a date. "Ericka was born in Chicago in 1998." This might make your password "EwbiC1998$" (add a symbol of your choice at the end). One hacker reported that the way he entered most secured websites was by exploiting people's weak passwords.

Keep It Safe
Don't allow others to access your password protected sites without you being present. After he or she does, change your password. Even the most well meaning person can accidentally make you the victim of a cyberattack if his or her computer is infected.

Go Low Tech
If you have a spreadsheet of passwords or other digital files that are highly sensitive, consider keeping them on an old computer not connected to the Internet. If you don't have an extra computer, encrypt the files using one of the many free file encryption tools.

Two Places
Another layer of protection could involve keeping the files in two locations. Copy the encrypted files to a DVD or flash drive and give it to a trusted family member or friend. If your computer is infected by a virus and temporarily unusable, those files are still available to you.

Stay out of Bad Neighborhoods
We know that some actions put us at greater risk of being victims of a crime. The Internet is the same way. Going to hacker sites, viewing adult content or going to sites that you know are scams put you at higher risk for a cyberattack than staying with more trusted sites.

Don't Fall for Pop-up
If an e-mail or pop-up window asks you to enter your username or password, don't do it. Instead, open your browser and go to the site directly. If you're still not convinced, call the company. Reputable companies will never ask you for your login information through an e-mail.

The Bottom Line
If you're worried about your bank or credit card company making you susceptible to cyberattack, it's more likely that your actions will make you a victim. Concentrate on what you can do to protect yourself and your computer. Check your financial accounts regularly to ensure no fraudulent activity has taken place.

SEE: 3 Ways Cybercrime Impacts Business

Related Articles
  1. Professionals

    4 Must Watch Films and Documentaries for Accountants

    Learn how these must-watch movies for accountants teach about the importance of ethics in a world driven by greed and financial power.
  2. Investing Basics

    4 Iconic Financial Companies That No Longer Exist

    Learn how poor management, frauds, scandals or mergers wiped out some of the most recognizable brands in the finance industry in the United States.
  3. Active Trading

    What Is A Pyramid Scheme?

    The FTC announced it had opened an official investigation of Herbalife, which has been accused of running a pyramid scheme. But what exactly does that mean?
  4. Investing Basics

    How Financial Statements Are Manipulated

    Financial statement manipulation is an ongoing problem, and investors who buy stocks or bonds should be aware of its signs and implications.
  5. Economics

    3 Notorious American White Collar Criminals

    Learn about the crimes and punishments of some of the most infamous convicted white-collar crooks.
  6. Savings

    Is It Safe to Send Money Through Gmail?

    Learn why Google's safeguards minimize the risks of sending money via Gmail, but also realize how hackers' sophistication always renders the Internet less than 100% safe.
  7. Investing Basics

    Top 3 Most Scandalous Insider Trading Debacles

    While insider trading is often difficult to spot, there have been plenty of egregious examples in history that were fairly simple to detect.
  8. Economics

    Detecting Financial Statement Fraud

    Fraudulent financial statements account for about 10% of the white-collar crime incidents reported each year.
  9. Professionals

    10 Must Watch Documentaries For Finance Professionals

    Find out about some of the best documentaries that finance professionals can watch to gain a better understanding of their industry.
  10. Savings

    Is It Safe to Send Money Through Facebook?

    Learn how Facebook employs strong measures to keep your information safe when sending money, but understand the rare threats that still exist.
  1. What are some high-profile examples of wash trading schemes?

    In 2012, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) was accused of a complex wash trading scheme to profit from a Canadian tax provision, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are examples of inherent risk?

    Inherent risk is the risk imposed by complex transactions that require significant estimation in assessing the impact on ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between wash trading and insider trading?

    Wash trading is an illegal trading activity that artificially pumps up trading volume in a stock without the stock ever changing ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What impact did the Sarbanes-Oxley Act have on corporate governance in the United ...

    After a prolonged period of corporate scandals involving large public companies from 2000 to 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Who are the most famous people convicted of insider trading?

    In finance, insider trading refers to the buying and selling of security by a person who has access to material non-public ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What's the difference between insider trading and insider information?

    Insider information is the knowledge of nonpublic material about a publicly traded company that may affect the stock's price. ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Take A Bath

    A slang term referring to the situation of an investor who has experienced a large loss from an investment or speculative ...
  2. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  3. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  4. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  5. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  6. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
Trading Center