Work & Career
Internet Security: How Not to Get Hacked
Five tips to help protect your life online.
If you send e-mail, post updates on Facebook, check your bank account balance online, or do most anything that requires the Internet, you’re at risk of being hacked.
In fact, last August, Mat Honan, senior writer for tech magazine Wired—someone presumably well aware of the dangers of hacking—got hacked. He lost data from his iPhone, iPad, and MacBook, including all photos of his one-year-old daughter. “My entire digital life was destroyed,” he wrote on wired.com. Luckily, embracing the Luddite lifestyle isn’t your only option. These five simple steps can greatly reduce your chances of being hacked. Make sure you watch out for these online scams.
Be aware of what you share
You don’t have to delete your Facebook or Twitter account to say safe, but posting birth dates, graduation years, or your mother’s maiden name-info often used to answer security questions to access your accounts online or over the phone-on social-media sites makes a hacker’s job even easier. These are photos you should never post on social media.
Pick a strong password
It can take a hacker’s computer only ten minutes to guess a password made up of six lowercase letters, but free websites such as safepassword.com can help you create a nearly uncrackable password with uppercase letters, symbols, and numbers. Using phrases as passwords works well too (the website passphra.se can help you create them). The phrase “say no to hackers,” for instance, would theoretically take a hack thousands of years to guess-until now, that is. These are the most common digital passwords of the year. Make sure that yours isn’t on the list.
Use 2-step verification
Facebook and Gmail have an optional security feature that, once activated, requires you to enter two passwords- your normal password plus a code that the companies text to your phone-to access your account. “The added step is a slight inconvenience that’s worth the trouble when the alternative can be getting hacked,” says CNET tech writer Matt Elliot. To set up the verification on Gmail, click on Account, then Security. On Facebook, log in, click on the down icon next to Home, and then click on Account Setting, Security, and finally Login Approvals. These password recovery questions are easy to hack.
Use wi-fi hot spots sparingly
T-Mobile and ATT, the largest providers of free public wireless internet (the kind often available in coffee shops, airports and hotels), don’t require encryption of data traveling between laptops and the internet, which means any info-your email pw, your bank account balance-is vulnerable to hackers. In windows, right click on the wireless icon in the taskbar to it off. On a mac, click the wifi icon in the menu bar to turn off wifi.
Back up your data
Hackers can delete years’ worth of emails, photos, documents and music from your computer in minutes. Protect your digital files by using a simple and free backup system available on websites such as crashplan.com and dropbox.com.
Sources: CNET, Lifehacker, NPR,ABC