Avoid being an Easy Target to Internet Hackers
There are two kinds of hackers in the world: Those who access your computer
just because they can and those who do it because they are thieves. It's easy to
get hacked. And yes, it can happen to you. Avoid it happening to you with a few
easy steps you can add to your daily routine and you'll be a lot safer online.
- Turn Off Your Phone's Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Hackers are
religious about this. Keeping these features "on" all the time makes it easy
for strangers to slip into your phone.
The problem? If you keep
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth active, hackers can see what networks you've connected
to before, spoof them and trick your phone into connecting to Wi-Fi and
Bluetooth devices that hackers carry around.
Once connected to your
phone, hackers can bombard your device with malware, steal data or spy on
you. And you won't even notice.
So, turn on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when
you need them. Turn them off when you don't.
- Use Two-Step Authentication. Nowadays, a single
password isn't enough. They get exposed all the time.
Lots of email
and social media services offer an extra later of protection: two-step
authentication -- essentially a second, temporary password.
example, when you set this up with Google, (GOOG) Twitter (TWTR, Tech30) and
LinkedIn, (LNKD, Tech30) they ask you for a secret code every time you log
in from a new device. You immediately get a text message with a six-digit
It's an effective way to keep out hackers. Even if someone
gets your password, they'd still need your phone too -- an unlikely
- Create a Smart Password Strategy. For the select few
websites with your most sensitive information (email, bank), create some
long and unique passphrases, like +hisPl@tinumDr@gonBreathesF1re.
everything else? Use a password manager. This type of program stores all
your passwords online, so you can make each one different, and you won't
have to remember them all.
But only use a password manager that
encrypts them on your device. LastPass and Password Safe do this.
(Why not use a password manager for everything? One master password unlocks
them all. You create a single point of failure.)
Change all of your
passwords more than once a year.
- Use HTTPS on Every Website. Install the HTTPS
Everywhere tool developed by the pro-privacy Electronic Frontier Foundation.
It encrypts all the information your browser is sending between your
computer and websites.
If you only see HTTP in the address bar,
anyone can spy on your Internet session.
- Bulk up your Home Wi-Fi. Setting up Wi-Fi at home is a
tour through the circles of hell. But these two steps are important.
First, set up a password. Don't keep the default password on the sticker.
Next, the machine will ask what type of security encryption standard
you'd like. Choose WPA-2.
Lots of machines default to WEP (Wired
Equivalent Privacy) or WPA (Wireless Protected Access). Avoid them at all
costs. A known Wi-Fi flaw can give up your password in seconds.
- Don't hide your Home Wi-Fi. Your home router asks:
"Hide the SSID?" If you say yes, then your devices are forced to "actively
scan" for the home network you're trying to hide. Sure, they'll connect. But
as a result, your device "actively scans" for networks all the time.
Your laptop and phone are more susceptible to connecting to strangers'
unsafe Wi-Fi networks.
"You're actually setting yourself back five
years in terms of security," said Ben Smith, an experienced Wi-Fi hacker
who's worked on secretive government projects.
- Think Twice Before Buying an Internet-Connected Device.
Do you really need a "smart" fridge or oven?
Companies are still
figuring out the kinks -- especially the tiny ones raising money on
crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, according to Duo
Security researcher Mark Stanislav.
Tech companies are in a rush to
slap the Internet on everything. Cool features get all the attention.
Privacy and safety don't.
As a case in point, a foul-mouthed hacker
hijacked a baby's monitor last year.
"You might be getting told
things are secure, when they're not," said Stanislav, who hacks devices for
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