No matter where or how you shop, bank, or store data, hackers present an ever-present risk. Hackers continually adapt and develop new techniques to gain entry to your information and steal it for their own gain, making it crucial to deal with them quickly and decisively.
There’s plenty of personal information out there—confidential documents, love letters, and bank account data—that hackers could be looking for and may try to exploit. Here are some simple strategies for keeping hackers at bay:
1. Use strong passwords.
Strong passwords are one of the best ways to safeguard your data against hackers. Without adequate cyber security protection and IT protections in place, a hacker could gain access to accounts and devices, change information without your knowledge, and make purchases under your name, leaving an everlasting footprint of time, money, and reputation loss behind them.
When selecting passwords, the most essential factor is creating separate ones for every account and software programme you use. That way, if one password becomes compromised, your other ones remain safe. Furthermore, using complex combinations of uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters will increase security by lengthening how long it takes a hacker to crack your code, hopefully dissuading them from trying.
Keep your personal information out of passwords, such as your name, birthdate, or the street where you were raised. Use a password manager that generates strong passwords automatically and stores them in an encrypted storage location—saving yourself the trouble of writing them down on Post-It notes or address books!
2. Keep your software updated.
Updating software regularly is one of the easiest ways to prevent hackers from accessing your information. Developers strengthen security for their products by constantly monitoring for signs of breaches, issuing updates to address exploited weaknesses, and finding fixes for vulnerabilities.
Hackers use your information to gain entry to networks, devices, or systems and cause havoc. Once they gain entry, they sell or encrypt your data, requiring payment of a ransom to access it again.
To safeguard your data effectively, the most reliable approach is to regularly save backup copies on an external hard drive or the cloud. In addition, only download software from official sources like the Apple App Store for iPhones or Google Play for Androids; pirated or illegal versions often contain malware, which could compromise your system and pose significant threats.
3. Don’t share your passwords.
Sharing passwords in our tech-driven world can be dangerously convenient. From sharing them with spouses for grocery delivery accounts to coworkers accessing files, sharing passwords is an all-too-common occurrence that poses serious security risks.
Sharing a password opens up all accounts using that particular password to someone who might use social engineering techniques such as phishing to gain entry.
Additionally, sharing passwords with those who have malware on their computers or fail to store it safely makes it easy for cybercriminals to gain access to your information and use it against you or even commit fraud in your name. Therefore, it is wise not to share passwords and ensure they are kept securely stored; using websites with an “https” in their address indicates they are secure and will prevent hackers from gaining entry to steal it; and avoid disclosing personal information on social media as much as possible.
4. Install anti-virus software.
Viruses are one of the primary ways hackers gain entry to computer systems and steal information. They typically spread via pop-up ads or fake websites that appear legitimate but in fact contain malware.
Advanced antivirus programmemes go beyond simply scanning signatures; they also use behaviour-based detection, monitoring a programme’s activity to judge whether it is malicious. For instance, if software begins deleting files or encrypting them without authorization, more sophisticated programmes may intervene and block that activity before purging any infected data from its system.
Consider investing in cloud backup software to protect sensitive data from loss. This encrypts and restricts access only through secure means such as passwords or biometric identification, providing another layer of defence in case of hacker attacks. Furthermore, use a PIN or passcode lock on your phone when not in use to prevent anyone using it to gain entry to account details and steal your information.
5. Encrypt your data.
Cyberattackers pose a great threat to our data. From personal conversations and company records to sensitive documents and confidential information, criminals are constantly looking to take this information for their own financial gain. That is why data encryption is such an integral component of protecting yourself against theft or breach. Scrambling turns information into code that is unreadable to anyone without the decryption key, helping to prevent unauthorised access, theft, and breaches of data security.
Numerous businesses already encrypt their data. Your bank, for instance, uses encryption to secure information between you and their server. When visiting websites, you may also notice encrypted links in the address bar or even padlock icons on them.
Since hackers continue to find ways into our networks and devices, it is more crucial than ever that we take proactive measures to keep our information safe. Implementing end-to-end encryption on messaging apps, setting two-factor authentication requirements for logins and installing firewalls are all ways we can make it harder for hackers to gain entry to our information. Clare Stouffer from Gen’s staff, as a blogger, covers topics from online security to privacy concerns.