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FOX43 Finds Out: Billions of cyber attacks were stopped this year

Internet Service Providers say they stopped more than 100 potential attacks per household. FOX43 Finds Out the steps you can take to keep your devices secure.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Rising COVID-19 case counts here in PA have a lot of people working or taking classes from home again.

That means hackers are working overtime, hoping you fall for a scam.

Comcast reports 95 percent of consumers grossly underestimate the volume of cyberattacks they face each month.

FOX43 Finds Out some of the simple steps you can take to guard your information against a grinch.

Once the calendar flips to December a lot of us fall into a so-called "holiday mode."

Between buying gifts, finishing work for the year, and the coronavirus pandemic, we can easily get distracted.

Terrill Frantz, an associate professor of e-business and cybersecurity at Harrisburg University says, "It's prime season for a cyber sleuth to catch you off guard."

An information security officer for Comcast says that the company alone stopped more than 6 billion attacks in 2020.

Noopur Davis, Comcast's EVP Chief Product and Information Security Officer said, "On average, we stopped 104 attacks per household, per month, this year."

We know some of the reasons why this is happening: Getting your personal information or sensitive data are usually at the top of that list.

However, bad guys might want to get your device to be part of what's called a "bot-net."

"A bunch of devices that are controlled by a bad actor and those devices can be commanded to coordinate an attack again a site of interest. Could be a bank, could be a school," said Davis.

It all may sound very technical, but there is a bit of good news. We already know a lot of their tricks. 

Davis said, "The threat actors continue to use the same tools they've always used, they've just kind of pivoted slightly."

That's where COVID-19 comes in. 

This year, hackers are using it to intimidate people by sending a message claiming you've been exposed with a link that will end up downloading malware onto your device. 

 "So the bad actors are really taking advantage of our need to know more about this pandemic," Davis said.

RELATED: FOX43 Finds Out: Cybersecurity experts fear there could be an increase in cyberattacks as people return to work

Here's what you can do about it:

1. Set up multi-factor authentication. Sse your thumbprint, face ID, or have a text sent to your phone when you access a website.

2. Make sure you turn on auto-update on your devices, so you have the most up to date security software.

3. Make sure your connection is secure: if you're noticing issues, contact your internet service provider and ask what they are doing to keep you safe. 

4. and Finally, don't click on that link! this is the number 1 way hackers get into our systems.

This can also happen when you download a new app on to your devices.

Frantz said, "I would generally say an app on your phone is probably a bit more secure to the credit of apple and google who have their app stores, there is some degree of certification going on, although those big companies, partly because of the volume do make mistakes and bad applications, bad apps, do get into these app stores."

RELATED: Cyber-security experts warn teachers, schools what to do if their E-classroom is hacked

Also, consider this a reminder to change your passwords.

I know it's annoying so at least change one of them today.

Cyber experts say this is one of the best ways to stop hackers.

If you have a story you want Jackie to look into, FOX43 wants to find out. Send her a message on Facebook or send an email to FOX43FindsOut@FOX43.com