In our day and age, it seems every week we hear about a different hack that has occurred, either against entire corporations or a private individual. While some hacks are extremely intricate operations, it is usually discovered that most hacks at the individual level could have been prevented.
The first and perhaps most common form of hacking is achieved through a misstep of focus on the user’s part, which is why the first step is to be mindful whenever the computer is open. One of cybercriminals’ best traits is their ability to deceive people. For instance, if there is any question about where a link is taking you, simply hover over the link to reveal the destination address. Another method of cyber self-defense is not visiting questionable websites or downloading from unknown sources.
A consideration that needs to be taken in terms of protection against cybercriminals is storage of information. Cloud storage is a massive and current target of sensitive information. A good rule of thumb for information storage is anything that leaves the local level can be stolen at some time. Another form of storage protection is continuous backing up of data. Hackers are notorious for things such as wiping photo libraries or deleting thousands of emails. To back up your data, you can invest in an external hard drive to take a snapshot of your machine or any personal information that cannot be recovered, such photos or emails.
A large number of hacking instances come in the form of passwords. The first step in breaking the password chain is using different passwords for different accounts. By using a small number of passwords in your digital life, it is like giving your attackers a one-key solution to everything. In addition to varying your passwords, passwords should be changed roughly every six months in order to continue protection.
Another form of protection in terms of passwords is using smarter passwords. Passwords such as “password” are easy prey, but also any form of common information such as your birthday or your mother’s maiden name are easily found by cybercriminals and should not be used for passwords. The solution is using difficult passwords. Any passwords using a combination of uppercase characters, lowercase characters, numbers and symbols are forms of stronger passwords.
For any extremely sensitive information, such as bank accounts, an extremely strong password should be created. A great tool for creating strong passwords is a password manager such as KeePass or 1Password, which are software applications that helps create and store passwords. Usually this software requires the user create a master password before giving them access to their entire password database, allowing for complete encryption and strong passwords without memorizing all of them.
A fairly new form of protection in terms of information security is the concept of two-step verification. Two-step verification allows for more protection when gaining access to any account because it requires a tie to a phone number. Two-step verification requires the user to enter their normal password before a code is sent from the company to a phone number tied to the account. The code must be entered before full access is given to the account. Facebook and Google both offer two-step verification as an option for logging into accounts.
Overall, technology is imperfect and the possibility of being hacked can never be totally eradicated. However, following these simple steps is a step in the right direction.