October 21st was a day of multitude of major websites being made inaccessible due to 3 successive cyber attacks. I won't bore you with the techie details, but there are links at the bottom of this post for that info if you'd like to wade through it.
An Explanatory Metaphor
In the simplest terms, what happened was sort of like one or more hackers went to a phone book, then went to a bunch of locations found in the phone book, and hung out to lunch signs on all the doors. Nothing beyond the doors was affected as far as we know right now, but the doors locked all owners and customers out.
Such hack attacks have happened before -- although not 3 in one day -- and more will inevitably happen in the future. Any computerized piece of equipment is potentially vulnerable, including your wifi router, your home security system, your new-ish car, your cell phone, and your tablets and regular computers.
Who Was Affected
If you have a professional practice website on Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace, or some WordPress hosts such as GoDaddy and BlueHost, and probably others, you and they were most likely affected. You should have been able to get into your websites and blogs by the next day.
If you routinely use PayPal, Pinterest, Twitter, Etsy, Spotify, Shopify, Yelp, Zendesk, Eventbrite, SoundCloud, Ancestry.com, Weather.com, Constant Contact, Wufoo, Kayak, or SurveyMonkey, you likely couldn't get into your accounts.
Many more affected entities are on the list: See GizModo.
Protect Yourself Against Future Attacks
Since the Oct. 21 attack wasn't on stored info or individual websites per se, but on internet infrastructure, you personally couldn't have done anything to prevent it. But you can do several things to increased the cyber security of your own info and internet functionality.
1. Keep ALL computerized devices up to date with malware protection. Consider Malware Bytes if you don't already have it.
2. NEVER allow even trusted websites to store credit card info for automatic renewals. Limit your personal info and eliminate your purchase history as much as possible.
3. NEVER date education info on your website, or give your professional license number when you can avoid it -- this helps reduce identity theft.
4. NEVER click on links in emails from sources you don't know, even if they have used your name in the subject or body of the email.
In fact, NEVER OPEN unsolicited emails with subject lines that say they will get you on Google's first page, or build a website for you -- these are always scams.
And NEVER OPEN emails claiming your reimbursement got lost, or that your invoice hasn't been paid, or that your bank wants to give you something cool unless you are immediately familiar with the sender, and even then be suspicious and DON'T CLICK ANY LINKS.
5. CHANGE all your passwords this weekend, and change them again every 3 months or so. Keep a list of places where you need to login and the passwords on a removable thumb drive, or in an old fashioned pen and paper notebook. Keep track of old and new passwords, just in case. (Trust me, the old ones can come in handy sometimes. It's a techie thing)
Or set up a strong password protection tool such as Last Pass.
Further Resources for You
When I'm able to, during events like yesterday's cyber attack, I'm on Facebook providing what I can find out about what is going on, how long it may last, and what to do about it, if anything. Updates are posted to my NoHypeMentor
facebook page when they involve an internet / business issue. If you can get online, and assuming Facebook is operating, check in there with questions and get the latest news.