Last year, President Trump pleaded with the Justice Department to investigate a hack. According to the president, China likely hacked into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Many of the emails, he alleged, had classified information.
The FBI never found any evidence to support the claims, but it begs the question: can we prevent hacking?
If high-profile individuals like Clinton can get hacked, then how can we protect our data?
Keep reading to learn the 15 most vital tips to protect yourself from cybercriminals.
1. Use Two-Step Verification for Email
The number one thing you need to do to protect yourself online is to secure your email address. Hackers who have access to your email can change other accounts.
If possible, you need to set up two-step verification for your email.
You’ll have to use your password and another verification method before getting access. This is an effective step that will prevent hacks.
2. Create a Unique Password
Another step in stopping hackers is making a good password. The majority of internet users make very bad passwords. In 2014, for example, the top five most popular passwords were:
Cybercriminals who crack passwords upload the information to databases online. That means anytime you use passwords on the database, it’s already exposed to hackers.
3. Update Your Computer or Device
Another tip on how to prevent hackers is to keep up-to-date with software updates. These important updates often have patches that fix vulnerabilities.
Failing to update may leave you open to an attack. It’s best to set your phone or computer to auto-download updates as they become available.
4. Password Protect Your Internet Connection
Too many internet users fail to password-protect their own internet connection.
Without a password, all the data that you send and receive is completely exposed. That means anyone in range of your router can get this data.
Criminals can also use an open network to spread infections or steal your bandwidth. At worst, they could use your connection to conduct illegal DDoS attacks.
5. Reconsider Connecting to Open WiFi Networks
Understand you face the same risks of exposure when you connect to an open public WiFi network.
Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from hackers on a public network:
- Always turn off the ‘auto-connect to WiFi networks’ setting
- Only enter in login information when the site has “https” rather than “Http.” The “s” indicates a secure connection to the website.
- Avoid logging into accounts through apps. Instead, use the internet browser
- Always log out of your accounts after using them on a public network
As a general rule, only connect to a public network when you have no other choice.
6. Prevent Hacking With Faraday EMP Bags
When pondering how to stop hackers, few consider the possibility of a major grid attack.
Electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) have the ability to destroy electrical devices. EMPs may occur as a result of a deployed weapon or natural phenomenon.
There’s very little you can do to protect your electronics from an EMP blast. It’s recommended you look for an EMP tech bag like the one found at https://techprotectbag.com/.
These bags can stop your devices from getting destroyed by an EMP. In a large scale attack, this bag could be life-saving.
7. Don’t Trust Email Links
A major tip on how to prevent hacking is to vet all links in emails.
Never click on a link from an email unless you trust the source. Even trusted sources sometimes send malicious emails on accident when they’ve gotten hacked.
It’s becoming more common for cybercriminals to mimic legitimate websites. They’ll ask you to log in on this duplicate website that actually steals your data.
When in doubt, type the known website’s address into your web browser rather than clicking a link.
8. Limit Your Social Media Friends List
I know. It seems silly to suggest you not talk to strangers on the internet in 2019. Still, consider how much personal data you leave exposed on social media every day.
Modern-day hackers use a technique called social engineering. They attempt to manipulate targets by befriending them. This often leads to them letting private information slip-on accident.
Social engineering can also impact you when a hacker adds someone on your friend’s list. They can gain access to your private profile by being friends of a friend.
The best way to avoid being a target of social engineering is to deny friend requests from people you don’t know.
9. Consider a VPN Service
These tips suggest maintaining privacy on the internet is very difficult. It isn’t impossible, but it’s very close.
Even the most infamous hacking group, Anonymous, found this out the hard way. Hundreds have gotten arrested after learning their actions weren’t so anonymous after all.
If you want to maximize your privacy, consider using a VPN service. VPN is short for the virtual private network. This type of service shields your computer’s IP address when you go online by using a middleman.
This middleman does all the communicating with different websites. It protects your location, computer address, data, and browsing history.
Usually, this service only costs around $5-10 per month. There are free options as well, but use your best judgment when choosing a service.
Keep in mind that VPN services are not infallible. Law enforcement agencies can still force them to give up your info, so don’t try to use one for illegal purposes.
10. Be Cautious About Your Own Blog
In February of 2018, over 5000 websites got hacked. When cybercriminals hack websites, they steal data like email addresses and passwords.
If you use the same password on your email account, you’re in danger! Always switch up your passwords when creating accounts on websites or blogs.
Your customer’s information may also get exposed during a hack.
It’s necessary to research cybersecurity for blogs if you have your own. These steps will protect you and your readers.
11. Watch for Malicious Apps
Understand that not every app found on Google or Apple’s store is safe. Many apps are malicious.
Some apps are covert in their methods. Pay attention when an app asks permission for:
- Access to your contacts
- Recording conversations
- Sending messages
- Administrative permissions
- Access to your location
Many apps use this information in invalid ways. If the app doesn’t need the data to function, it may be collecting it for nefarious purposes.
12. Avoid Sneaky Social Media Surveys
If you’ve been on social media any length of time, then you’ve run across fun surveys. You answer lighthearted questions, share, and wait for your friends to answer too.
Most surveys are for entertainment, but some may be prying for specific information. Some survey answers could also be verification methods for your accounts. Be careful of posting:
- Your birthday
- The road you grew up on
- Your mother’s maiden name
- Your first pet
- The first company you worked for
- The city you got engaged
- Where you were born
- Where you attended college or high school
- Your favorite food
These answers could allow hackers to gain access to your account. They could answer your security questions based on your survey answers.
They may even be able to change your password!
13. Consider a Password Manager
Password manager programs help you create unique, hard-to-crack passwords for each account. Usually, the manager lets you create a master password to access all your accounts.
This step makes it very difficult for a hacker to access your accounts by password cracking. If one of your accounts does get hacked, your manager will alert you right away.
The method isn’t perfect because a master password can also get hacked, but it’s much less likely.
14. Delete Data on Old Devices
Almost 44 percent of Americans will upgrade their phones as soon as possible. This means a lot of working tech gets resold on the market.
Whether you’re upgrading a computer or smartphone, never get rid of it without wiping it. Otherwise, the new owner may have access to all the data you left on the device.
The best advice is to restore your phone or computer back to factory settings.
15. Be Wary of Giving Information to Businesses
Companies try to avoid massive cyberattacks, but major breaches still occur.
If you aren’t required to give personal information to a company, then don’t. Never volunteer your phone number, address, or other information unless necessary.
It’s better to take your business elsewhere than to have your data exposed in a hack.
Don’t Fall Victim to Hackers
Over the past two decades, internet hacking has exploded. Hacking actions have forced the hands of politicians, businesses, and online users.
Yet, collectively, we continue to remain oblivious to the real dangers of the internet.
We must take steps as individuals to prevent hacking and protect our personal data. Otherwise, we are spiraling toward a privacy-free world.
Take heed of these 15 important tips, and try to incorporate them into your internet routine. Don’t be the next victim of a hack.