It’s amazing how quickly technology is evolving to simplify our lives. Along with these advances, though, comes the rise of hacking.
Cybercrime is becoming more sophisticated than ever before. Hackers know how to make their scams look legit enough that someone will fall for them.
That someone doesn’t have to be you, though. You can secure your devices from hackers and make sure you’re not a cybercrime victim. Just use these ways to stay ahead of their illegal games.
1. Put Up a Wall – A Firewall, That Is
When you want to keep unwelcome guests or pests out, you put a wall up around your property. The same theory applies to your devices.
If you’re ever on the internet, anyone who knows their stuff can see what you’re doing. They have access to your financial documents, your business and personal data, and anything connected to that info.
Firewalls Prevent Unauthorized Entry
A firewall is the first step to securing your privacy. It’s a software program that puts a barrier between the info on your device and anyone trying to access it.
Windows and Mac operating systems come with firewalls already installed. When you set your system up, give the software permission to protect you when you go online. Then, be sure you keep up with the newest updates.
However, sophisticated hackers are always trying to stay ahead of the main competition. Windows and Mac are two of the first firewalls to get breached.
Many major companies will use another layer of protection, like Cisco or Sophos, and you can, too. That way, even if there’s a major data breach and your info was part of it, you have a fighting chance of keeping most of your info secure.
2. Protect Your System From Viruses
As the name implies, a computer virus, or its malware partner, is invisible, dangerous, and multiplies rapidly. You can pick one up anywhere you connect your computer to the internet.
Viruses and malware on your computer may have obvious signs. Your computer will run more slowly than usual, or you’ll notice missing data or programs you never installed.
Sometimes, the threats are less apparent. By the time you notice there’s an issue, the hacker has already gained access to your data.
To protect your devices from viruses and malware, use antivirus software and keep it up-to-date. Invest in a reputable company, such as Avast or MalwareBytes. Let the program monitor your machine in real-time and make scheduled scans for threats.
3. Keep Your Passwords Complicated
Yes, you want to remember what your password is when you log into an account. But if it’s easy for you to recall, it’s easy for a hacker to break.
The majority of people use the same passwords, or a slight variation of one, for every login. This makes it child’s play for a cybercriminal with a hacking program to figure out the login for every account you have.
All they do is start a program that analyzes things like keystrokes, common passwords used on a network, and other factors. These are compared to the sites they’re trying to hack into. Then, they sit back and wait until they find a match.
The more secure your passwords are, the less likely they will be compromised. And if one account does make it through to a hacker, the rest of your info is safe because you used a completely different one for each login.
4. Never Click on Unrecognized Emails
Phishing is one of the most successful methods hackers use to get into your devices. As their scams get more realistic, people fall for them faster.
For example, you get an email from Apple saying there’s been an unauthorized attempt to access your account. Of course, you’re concerned, so you open the message.
In it, Apple is warning you to click on the link in the message to see if you’ve been hacked. Never click on anything inside an email if you’re not positive it’s legitimate. And most of these sites will tell you to go into your account from your device, not open an internal message.
Is it Legit or a Scam?
But there are always telltale signs you can look for when you get a suspicious message.
First, check the logo. In some common email platforms, like Yahoo, there’s an image next to the name of the sender. Does the image match exactly, or is it slightly off? We guarantee a multi-million dollar company isn’t going to let their logo be discolored or off-center.
Next, if the logo is perfect, or there isn’t one, look at the name. Is it really PayPal, or is it PayPaI? The first one ends in an l; the second one is a capitalized I. They look identical, don’t they?
So far, so good, so you open the email. Look at the address of the sender. Sometimes, this means hovering over the name. A legit return address would be something simple, such as firstname.lastname@example.org. The more strange symbols, letters, and numbers, the less likely it’s a legit email.
Finally, be on the lookout for mistakes. Again, serious companies have writers and editors putting out their emails. They’re not going to send an email that has basic typos.
If any of these appear in an email you received, report the message as spam and delete it. Do not keep it in your inbox, or you could accidentally open it later.
No one wants to be a victim of cybercrime, but almost all of us will fall for these hacking schemes at some point in our lives. Use these four strategies to secure your devices and reduce the chances of falling for the scams of a cybercriminal.