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Don't Get Hacked



How do you prevent yourself from getting hacked when it seems like every day a new threat is out there that makes the news?  Let’s face it, we’ve all had those moments (you know you have) where you clicked on an email or a web page, and then realized you may have fallen for a scam designed to steal your data, or keep you from accessing it until a ransom is paid.

The cyber world can be a scary place where a mere click can cause big problems.  Last month I wrote an article called Don’t Get Spammed.  This month I discuss steps you can take in an effort to prevent yourself from getting hacked.  Below are some common-sense tips.

  • Download Software/Apps with Care.  Before you download software or an app, confirm the software/app provider is legitimate.  As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
  • Install Updates.  Hackers often target users who do not stay current with installing software updates, operating system patches, and the like.  So, when Microsoft Office, Acrobat Reader, Windows Updates, or your iPhone/Android asks you if you want to install an update, update as soon as convenient so that you have the latest software, and the greatest protection from hackers.  Make sure to reboot your device afterwards if prompted to do so as those newly installed software updates won’t take effect until after the reboot.
  • Secure Your Home Wi-Fi.  Make sure your wireless network is secure by using a unique password and then only give that password to people you trust.  Better yet, add a reminder to your calendar to change your home network password from time to time.
  •  Passwords.  Speaking of passwords, change your passwords at least once or twice a year.   Use unique (and more importantly) different passwords for various sites.  Use a password with a minimum combination of at least 8 characters - with at least 1 upper case, 1 letter, 1 number, and 1 symbol in the mix.  
  • Use A Password Manager.  Have a hard time coming up with numerous passwords that you can remember?  A password manager can solve that problem.  LastPass is one example of a password manager.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).  In addition to passwords, use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for any sites that allow you to set it up.  MFA involves a message with a secret code being sent to your cell phone or your computer, which must be entered after your password every time a login is initiated.  When utilizing MFA, even if a hacker gets your username and password, they won’t be able to login posing as you, because they will not have access to the MFA code.
  • Reboot.  My last tip, our computer consultant will appreciate as this is something he tells us all frequently, restart your computer and laptop as often as every day.  If you get in the habit of doing a restart on your computer at the end of the day it will help keep your computer running smoothly.  This shutdown process closes any services that were open in the background and on the startup process it brings up only those background services that are needed for Windows to run, which gives you a clean start to your session, which immediately frees up memory, can fix slowness of your computer, can clear up internet connectivity issues, performance issues, and trigger your computer to install those very important updates to name a few.

I hope you find these tips helpful.  While there are many additional layers of protection that can help you from getting hacked, these tips will hopefully provide a solid foundation for safeguarding your data.

If there are any other topics you would like us to address in future columns of The Bulletin Board, please let us know.  

Stay safe out there.