Hackers persist in ways that ordinary criminals could never get away with. They prey on people who are unwise about the way computers work and rely on exploiting vulnerabilities in everyday software to gain unauthorized access to their personal computers. Once they're inside, they can steal every piece of data stored on that computer, including credit cards, personal information and more. Some hackers can be so ruthless that they steal everything from people regardless if it's related to personal, business or even charity interests.
Needless to say, they can make a real mess of things.
The good news is that they can be stopped. There's five easy things that you can do to protect yourself from hackers.
1. Use Strong Passwords That You Can Remember
Simply put, weak passwords that are under seven characters are easy for hackers to guess. If they can't guess them, they can input every combination of characters until they get them, provided they really want to.
Make your passwords strong by mixing letters and numbers together. Instead of “golfing” for your passwords, use something like “82golfing55”, where the first two digits signify the year you started doing something and the last two another year that only you would know.
2. Antivirus Software
One of the most common ways hackers gain access to your computer is through malicious software. The best way to counter this is to use an up-to-date antivirus program that automatically scans files you download and provides you with a periodic scan of your entire hard drive. Most antivirus programs can detect things that might be malicious using heuristic scans.
3. Updated Software
Manufacturers release regular updates to software that patch the security holes that hackers use to gain access to your system. Regularly check for updates for the software that you use the most, which includes any internet browsers and operating system software.
You can't fix every hole that software and manufacturers aren't always the best to rely on for timely patches. What they don't fix can be secured by a good firewall. A firewall will allow you to regulate who and what access your computer, and a better one will allow you to regulate what leaves your computer.
5. Be Smart
Out of all these tips, this is the most important one. If hackers didn't have any holes in software, they would still be able to gain access to computers by using something called “social engineering.” They can trick you into entering sensitive things like your bank login information by using pages that look real. Always check the URL of the page you're on and make sure you know who you're talking to.
About the Author:
Madyson Grant is currently pursuing a degree at an Engineering Institute using an advanced diploma kit. She is using her knowledge to blog about the ways to protect yourself online.