If you use a computer to access the Internet, you likely know the dangers of online hackers. But what do you really know about preventing a devastating data loss, such as the loss of data across all of your devices from a simple Apple ID hack? Is your Facebook account safe from hackers posting malicious links in your name on your wall or the walls of your friends? You might think you are, but likely aren't aware at exactly how easy it is to come across your personal information.
Watch What You Share, Even If You Watch What You Share
We all have those friends who dub themselves “anti-Facebook.” 88 percent of 2,208 people surveyed said they were “somewhat concerned” their personal information might be used without them even knowing, and 29 percent were “extremely concerned.” Experts agree that people should be more than a little bit concerned, especially because of social media sites like Facebook.
Even people who watch what they share may be at risk. It doesn’t take much for a hacker to gather information. A birthday here and an address there may be all that’s needed to form a complete personal puzzle. Once that puzzle has been formed, there’s really no turning back. This is how hackers can do it: little bits and pieces of the puzzle come together to form the full picture, no matter how careful you think you are.
Protection is Simple
Start by Googling yourself, using your name and your name in quotations. Add key words, such as your phone number, address, company, high school, email address, etc. and see what comes up. Is there any information a hacker might find useful contained on these pages? If there is, it's time to reassess your online information safety.
Passwords are another issue. It's all about length: a five character password can take about a couple of hours to crack using software made to try combination after combination of characters, but a seven character password can take over 10 days. Security experts say the best defense is a passphrase rather than a password. String two random words together, randomly capitalize letters throughout the string, and add some symbols, maybe a @ for the letter “a.” Now, a hacker can't go through every word in the dictionary, as your passphrase is actually two or three words long.
Update and Prioritize
The best way to keep hackers from crashing your system is still to assure you are running the latest version of your applications, especially your antivirus software. Certain malware works by exploiting the bugs that are in certain software. Updates correct the bugs, so if you want to assure you aren't feeding the problem, be sure to update your programs as soon as the update becomes available.
When it comes to your highly sensitive accounts, like your online account passwords or email accounts, you should make these passwords completely different from any password you have out there in cyberspace. Think about it: a hacker gets your password and then has access to any account he desires, all because you've used the same password across the board. If its information you wouldn't want to be in anyone else's hands, create a unique password to protect it.