Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How can I avoid being hacked?

All of us use the Internet; it is a vital necessity for life in the 21st century. But surfing the web exposes our lives to black hats who can harm us and steal our digital identity.

Whenever you access a website and enter personal information, you become a target for data criminals. Many of your accounts contain sensitive information such as credit card numbers, addresses and phone numbers, personal photos, etc. It's vital to safeguard all your online data.

But how do we protect ourselves online? How do we prevent hackers from stealing our private data? The Internet offers plenty of articles on this topic but for your convenience, we list here basic steps you can take to keep your personal information safe when you browse the Internet...

1. Create a unique password for each site

The easiest way for hackers to access your data is to break into an insecure website containing your personal information and to probe for the same or similar passwords on other sites. So, you should lessen your risk of exposure by creating a unique password for each site or account you have.

2. Create strong passwords

The most common mistake most of us make is creating a password that is way too easy to guess, like our birthday date or the name of a loved one. While this practice allows us to easily remember our password, it also makes it easy for a hacker who has researched you to hack into your account.

3. Use a password manager

We understand the difficulty of keeping track of strong, unique passwords for each site you visit online. It's impractical to memorize them all and it's annoying to enter them each time at every login. While many users store passwords in notes apps, a cloud file share service or in a spreadsheet on their computing device, all of these methods are insecure and vulnerable to attack. A much better, more secure method is to use password manager software to store your login information. Many are available, such as KeyReel, 1Password, and LastPass. These software solutions store your data in a secure online vault, freeing you from the angst of trying to keep up with all the passwords you use.

4. Be wary of the cloud

While you can choose from a number of password manager options, remember that many of them store passwords in the cloud. Be aware that by giving your critical identity data to a third party for safekeeping, you increase the risk of making your data available to hackers. Do you recall press coverage when LastPass was hacked and leaked sensitive personal data, including passwords? While these companies are Internet security professionals, just keep in mind that security is not absolute and unauthorized entry into the bank with user passwords is more bountiful to hackers than to target you personally.

5. Check before you click links

Many cyber attacks begin by an unwary user clicking on an innocuous-looking link in a phishing email. These links direct victims to fraudulent websites asking to enter passwords and update personal information. If you're not expecting to receive an email with a link, beware! Don't click links you're not sure of. Instead, use favorites list or manually enter destination information or search for the website on your browser. Legitimate businesses make their contact information publicly available online, so you can either email or telephone their support team. Do not use information provided in an email; it can lead you to scammers! Tools, like antiviruses and anti-phishing toolbars, will increase your protection as well.

6. Make sure the website is secure

Various fake and fraudulent websites abound on the Internet. You don't want to share any of your personal data with them. So, make sure that your website connection is recognized as "secure" by your browser. Connect to only sites using encrypted HTTPS protocol. These URLs start with "https://", not "http://".

7. Trust only well-known payment sites to handle your Internet payments

Many websites require payment information but just because they may use the "https://" protocol doesn't mean it's trustworthy. Share your credit card details only with sites you know well and can trust, like PayPal, Stripe, Google Checkout, and Amazon.

Hopefully, the information above will help protect you against hackers and strengthen your online security. Make sure you follow these tips to stop hackers from stealing your private data and ruining your online identity.

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