Starting this week, an undisclosed number of U.S. citizens will be receiving notice that their credit card information may have been compromised. Acer, a Taiwanese multinational hardware and electronics corporation, believes it was the target of an unauthorized access data breach that potentially spanned a period of 11 months. The company announced that users of it e-commerce website may have had their private information, including “names, addresses, payment card numbers, card expiration dates, and three-digit security codes (CVV numbers),” compromised.

Unauthorized access occurs when an individual “gains access to a website, program, server, service, or other system using someone else’s account or other methods.” According to an IBM study, in 2014, incidents of this kind accounted for 37 percent of the most frequently occurring cybersecurity incident categories. In 2015, that number rose by 8 percent. This means that unauthorized access incidents account for almost half of the most frequently occurring security incidents.

Those numbers may leave many concerned about the strength of their cybersecurity networks. Fortunately, following a few simple steps can make all the difference in avoiding a breach:

  1. Hardware disk encryption. The most commonly used method for data security, disk encryption converts data into unreadable code which unauthorized users cannot access or decipher. Disk encryption can also take place through software rather than hardware, but this poses a greater risk, because a malicious hacker can easily corrupt the data.
  2. Firewall. A strong firewall is essential to protect your network from unauthorized access. “The firewall protects your network by controlling internet traffic that comes into and goes out of your business.”
  3. Antivirus. Just like firewall, a strong antivirus program is vital. The firewall keeps your network safe, but the antivirus keeps your files safe.
  4. Back up. Though backing up your hard drives won’t stop unauthorized access, it will prove invaluable if that hacker erases any of your system’s data.
  5. Monitor. A strong firewall and antivirus program cannot protect you if you do not run regular checks and updates. Additionally, system administrators can have alerts set up to notify them when there has been an unauthorized access attempt. Alerts like these can help you stay up to date on where, if any, of your system’s weaknesses exist.