While it’s generally true that hackers and identity thieves work hard to be one step ahead of everyone else, they usually get the goods because of a victim’s dumb action.
There are some well-known tricks to stay safe online, but there are also easy ones that many people may not know about. In times when hotel Wi-Fi networks are being hacked and hackers can be easily hired, it’s important to be as cautious as possible.
Here are a few ways to even better protect yourself from unwanted hacking.
Virtualized private networks (VPNs) serve many functions. Put simply, a VPN is a group of computers digitally connected together making a secure private sub-network within another larger one (usually the internet). They are often used in businesses and universities to create secure networks. They are also frequently used by people in censored countries because VPNs mask countries' IP addresses.
This tool is very useful to protect against hacking because they make all web traffic end-to-end encrypted. This means that any data you enter while using a VPN is protected from external intrusion. VPNs are also great for surfing the web on public Wi-Fi networks, because they ensure end-to-end encryption for all traffic. This means that all the data transferred is protected. Hotspot Shield is one of the more popular VPNs on the market.
This may sound counterintuitive as the cloud is one of the biggest digital products around. But there's a good argument to be made that anything can be hacked.
The Snowden leaks have shown that even the most secure networks have probably been infiltrated. So if you have private data you don't want exposed, it's probably best to back it up locally instead of on a big company's cloud.
While linking accounts is a great way to streamline all of your digital information, it also gives hackers a way to connect the dots.
For example, if someone gets your Twitter password and you have your company's Twitter account also linked, then your company may also get hacked in some capacity.
So while linking may make your life easier, it also makes a hacker's life easier.
Security questions were invented as ways to prove that someone logging in to a service is who they say they are. But even the most personal information can be hacked.
For instance, a simple Google search can show what your mother's maiden name is. So when it comes to security questions, it's probably best to treat this like another sort of password. Perhaps instead of putting 'Fido' for your first dog's name, put in a random answer like 'The Wizard of Oz.'
While you may think that routers come secure out of the box, that is far from true. When you buy a new home Wi-Fi router there are a few things you should do to make them as impermeable as possible to hackers.
For one, make sure the network is password protected. And the more complicated the password, the better. Second, change the router's default settings. All routers come with a default administrator password -- and most of them are the same -- so make sure you change that password ASAP.
This may not be a 'little known' tip, but it's something that must always be repeated: If you are sharing critical data like you credit card number, make sure the page is encrypted.
If it's not, it is very easy for any external entity to intercept the traffic. The trick is easy: If you don't see a 'locked' symbol on your browser, don't make any transactions.
This is another one that may seem obvious to some, yet not enough people use it. Two-factor authentication requires people to use something else (usually a mobile phone) to confirm who they are.
This means that if hackers get your password, they won't be able to get access to a two-factored account unless they also have access to whatever device the second factor is coming from. It's an easy way to log in and one that makes you more secure.
You might think your passwords are original, but most of us use the same ones because they're easy to remember.
For example, the most common password in 2014 was '123456' followed by 'password.'
Instead, use capital and lowercase letters, out-of-order numbers, punctuation marks, and word combinations that are tough to guess.
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