Recent events have concluded that the days of hacking business had begun. Federal agencies and other private sections have their hands full and it’s not getting better as days go by. In reality, average people like you are the main target. On the other hand, average people like you can find ways to protect yourself from getting your sensitive information hacked whether by a garage prankster, spouse, Exes, or by hacker bandits group called Anonymous.
It is important to determine what kind of information you are sharing over the internet. It helps to think that your information is likely to become a public record and can be easily used by others whenever you are giving your true information over the internet. A really good example of this is sharing your factual information such as name, birthday, address, email addresses, and telephone numbers to social networks sites and such. Be very careful when sharing information such as your pet’s name, maiden name, first car, mother’s maiden name, favorite author, etc because… (keep reading below)
Security Reset Questions
I’m sure if you have online accounts like PayPal, Google, Hotmail, Banks, Wireless, etc., you have come across giving answers to Security Questions for password reset. As I mentioned earlier, be very careful when sharing information such as your pet’s name, maiden name, first car, mother’s maiden name, favorite author, etc because these can be easily obtained and used by hackers to reset your online account passwords that would allow them to take over your account. Now, if you must share your pet’s name on your Facebook page, it would be wise not to use that answer or question anywhere else. These apply to all of your information shared in the internet. When choosing a security question, I highly recommend that you choose “make your own question”. This way you can create a custom non-generic question that only you can answer. For example: What is your fetish? Answer: guys in red boxers. If you feel like you won’t remember that answer then again it is wise to use one-word answer. For example: Who is your first kiss? Answer: Shawn.
Another way your information is stolen is when you use them in fake websites. Hackers can easily spoof or mimic a website in order to look like the real website to obtain your username and password. This is called PHISHING. Last year (2010), PayPal is the most Phished website – which makes sense because they deal with consumers’ money and banking information. This is followed by Facebook. When browsing or logging in online, it is VERY important that you are in the right website and not a bogus one. Make sure your web browser address bar is pointed to www.facebook .com and not something like www.fcebook.com or www.faceboik.com. The safest and easiest way to do this is to look closely to the domain name and extension in the address bar. Let me break it down for you.
www. = is the subdomain
facebook = is the domain
.com = is the extension
If the domain name is not your intended domain name then do not provide further information. If you realize or think that your information has been obtained through phishing then go to the intended domain name or website and change your password IMMEDIATELY. Trust me, Phising is how I found out my boyfriend had slept with someone else in the past. Phising is complicated and a big problem even now. Internet browser (chrome and firefox) developers are doing their best to warn you of a potential phishing website before letting you to continue. Even with this feature, it cannot protect you 100% of the time because of the number of phishing websites created everyday! Of course you have to have the latest browser and this feature is enabled in the Settings or Preferences.
Internet Browser plugins and add-ons
Although browser plugins and add-ons are very useful in a lot of ways, they can also be the reason of compromising your information. I personally don’t like using plugins and add-ons with my browser because of this and also the fact that it makes your browser performance to decrease. Stay away from generic “search bars”, popup blockers, malware scanners, “hot deals bar” and anything in that nature because most of them keeps track and steals ANYTHING YOU TYPE in your browser. These plugins and add-ons are also hackers’ gateway to your computer because plugins and add-ons come with flaws. These flaws are exploited by hackers in order to take control of your computer without you even noticing a difference.
Stay away from popups! Especially, do not click on popups because they are EVIL! Simply close the popup by clicking on the X button on the top right hand corner. Sometimes a pop can disguise and stealthily acts like a confirmation button to install spywares in your computer. Most victim computers are infected with spywares and malwares because of confirmation button disguised as popups.
Do not install just any softwares in your computer. Again, softwares can be the gateway to hackers to take control of your computer. I am talking about softwares such as weather, traffic, etc. unless otherwise it came from a legit website and does what they say it does. Some softwares are illegally promoted and doesn’t actually function as what they claim it does. Furthermore, READ, READ, and READ before taking each step when installing a software because you can accidentally confirm installation of a third party softwares in your computer. Let’s break it down. For Example: I’m installing this awesome Video Editor I got for free online, so I just clicked on NEXT, NEXT, and FINISH because I can’t wait to use it! After the installation, I noticed that I keep getting pops out of nowhere informing me of “HOT DEALS IN TOWN”. This is because when I was installing the Video Editor software, I accidentally confirmed to install another software by clicking NEXT. These third party softwares are defaulted to be installed and in most occasions hard to spot especially when you are in a hurry. Make sure to take your time and disagree to install third party softwares “hidden” in software installation process.
When you are in the city, it is easy to find free wifi hotspots! Be careful when connecting to these free wifi hotspots because they can also monitor and steal the connection and communication log between your computer and the internet. Some wifi hotspots can let others to view and share your computer internal data and files to the public. When using free wifi, it is important that you choose “Public Network” in your network location. This way, your computer is at least on guard and can protect your computer while using a public internet access. Also make sure your computer internal firewall is turned on. Normally, your computer comes with a built-in firewall feature included in the OS, if you don’t then your computer SUX!
Be aware of fake antivirus softwares out there! These antivirus softwares are actually the virus itself. Norton, Kaspersky, and AVG are really good antivirus softwares to use to protect your computers from malwares and viruses.
Finally, the first line of defense you have from hackers is your computer password. Do not allow your computer to be passwordless.
These are only some of the things you can do to protect yourself and information from hackers. Please comment below if you have any questions, comments, and additions.