Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to Prevent Hackers

The online world could be a scary place especially if you aren't equipped with enough knowledge about Internet security. Many of the services we are using may not offer enough protection for their users. In this post, I present to you some of the tips that would greatly help you stay protected online.

The Virtual World: Learn to protect yourself from virtual thieves.

We are now in an era of high-end technology. Many of the things we do can be easily done at the tip of our fingers. Research, shopping, banking, communication - you name it. But sometimes, all these conveniences come at a price. Let's say you have an online account and a third party got hold of it. Using your account, he could then possibly buy stuffs and send them instead to his address, but the charges would be made on your credit card. On more severe instances, getting hold of your account may not only make you lose money, but also your identity. It is not uncommon to hear cases when a person's Twitter account got hacked, her hard drive's data got wiped out, or her contact information got compromised. It's a scary virtual world out there, but instead of completely staying away from these online activities to protect yourself, a more sensible thing to do is to learn about Internet security - to get the most out of your online experience but at the same time, protect yourself from unscrupulous parties.

"But I'm No Internet Savvy!"

Everyone can learn about computers. (Source: juanpol | Flickr
You may say, you're not an internet savvy. You don't have enough expertise to counter the intelligence of hackers. You may also think that every layperson's account is prone to hacking, and not being handpicked by hackers is just a matter of being lucky. But, I tell you, you don't really need to be a computer programmer to get away from hackers. In fact, there are many easy-to-do steps that anyone could follow to add some layers of security to his account.

This starts by sitting down in front of your computer screen. Go over to your accounts. Look inside the mind of the hacker. If you were greeted with a couple of empty textboxes, asking for a username and password, where would a hacker get those information? Perhaps this hacker already knows your email address and credit card number? Those two information could already be a great tip to the hacker. By simply contacting the services you've been subscribed to (such as Apple), providing these couple of information to the customer service could get him a new temporary password and therefore use it to get inside your account.

Tips to Protect Yourself Online

I've read a number of cases already from users who've been hacked. And from their experiences, here are the things that I could deduce to increase your internet security:

Don't Use the Same Username and Password Across the Web.
If by some way, the hacker did get hold of your password on one account, he may try going in your other accounts as well. If you use the same password on your other accounts, then those accounts may also be in trouble.

Avoid Using Public Wifi.
You may be thrilled to know that your local coffee shop offers free Internet service, but public wifi are unsecured networks. A person who is within the same network could sidejack your computer. If you've logged into Facebook or your Yahoomail, she could easily view those pages on her own screen by using a special program for sidejacking, even without knowing your password per se. Once she sees inside the page, she could easily go to settings and change your password.

Never Disclose Your Personal Details on the Web.
If you're an online writer or a website owner, chances are, you have an author's section that includes a small photo with your name and email attached to it. But aside from luring some stalkers with your beautiful portrait (especially if you're female), your personal details could be used to get into your accounts. With your real name and email address, one persistent hacker could make his own research to solicit more information about you, and use those to get into your account. So, never use your real name. Also, use a different email address for your online banking and shopping needs. The email address disclosed on your website should be for the website's use only.

Use an Anti-Spyware or Anti-Malware Program.
Surfing the web allows you to learn about a lot of things and get you to many different sites. But your search engine could also land you to a malicious website with spywares and malwares. You may also have unsuspectingly download a free software with a spyware or malware bundled with it. It is therefore recommended to install an anti-spyware and anti-malware on your computer. Perform a scan regularly to check for any dubious files. Also, don't forget to update the database before you scan.

Don't Answer Your Security Questions Truthfully.
Yeah, we may be getting old. We sometimes forget our password especially if we seldom use the account. So does that mean we would never access our own account forever? That is when your preset security questions come in. By answering those questions, the website host could send you a temporary password, or even your original password, to help you reaccess your forgotten account. The problem arises when a hacker learns about your email account where the temporary password is sent. If he knows about your username, but not the password, he could pretend to just have forgotten the password. By answering some ridicously easy security questions, he could get hold of your account. So, if the security question is, what is your favorite color? How many colors are there really? The hacker could just type all the colors available until he gets the right one. So, instead of answering your real favorite color, you could just enter a meaningless set of numbers and letters as your answer. Keepass is one software that allows you to generate random characters for your password and security questions then saves it in a database with a master password in your laptop. If I were you, I would never trust the website to help me remember my password, but instead use a software to keep a database of my passwords and accounts. Just make sure no one gets hold of that database as well.