Hackers on high alert as vacation season approaches

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CHAMPAIGN--Cyber criminals are hacking away at their keyboards more than ever and it's not just big companies they're after.

"You hear about the big breaches where 30, 40, 50 million records get stolen," said cyber security consultant, John Bambenek. "But the reality is that there are malware families that I'm tracking that have millions, if not tens of millions, of consumers that have been impacted by them."

Last year, more than 317 million pieces of malware were created. And as millions of people prepare to take trips this summer, hackers are on high alert, searching for opportunities to deploy these damaging softwares.

The first step toward avoiding a cyber attack is as easy as pressing the off button and shutting down your computer completely for the duration of your vacation.

"If it's not on, people can't attack it, people can't go after your computer, anything like that," said Bambenek.

There are also precautions to take while you're away. Cyber security experts say travelers should be cautious about the personal information they access while on their trips, specifically when using an open WI-FI network or a public computer.

"Many people will install malware on those computers to capture passwords. Many people will sniff open wireless networks," said Bambenek. "And not just while you're abroad, it could be a local Starbucks or wherever."

So instead of using their internet, experts suggest you create your own by investing in a mobile hotspot.  

"You can use these little "MY-FI" devices so they connect over the cellular network," said Bambenek. "So that you can trust that nobody is man-in-the-middling of it because it's your device."  

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