Prevent Hacking: A Guide to Protecting Your Data And Devices

Hacking in this day and age has become a major problem, and the following suggestions and security settings are your guide to prevent someone from Internet hacking and gaining access to your devices.

What is Hacking?

Because of TV and movies, most of us have a similar picture in our head of a hacker. To clarify, he's a younger guy, maybe wearing a hoodie, peering into a computer screen in a dark room furiously punching in lines of code.

In reality, it's much less mysterious. Moreover, hackers are essentially criminals who are proficient in machine code and the ins and outs of operating systems.

They're experts at performing cyber attacks to access secured systems and networks in order to steal sensitive information. Sensitive information can be described as financial information, credit card data, and even email address passwords.

Consequently, to hack into systems, they use a variety of hacking "tools." These tools include:

Moreover, hundreds of thousands of malicious hacking tools exist out there in the wild Internet. Therefore, these tools can enable hackers to compromise even the securest of systems.  To clarify, this means no matter your computer proficiency, you need to take the necessary steps to protect yourself.

Therefore, the Internet security industry works just as hard as the hackers and is constantly developing new security solutions to keep you safe online. Likewise, this article provides some security tips you can use to protect computers, mobile devices, and other owned connected devices from Internet hackers.

Security Tips to Prevent Hacking

Basics to Prevent Hacking

To stop hackers from accessing your data or files, consider these tips:

  1. Install Antivirus Software. Antivirus software performs regular searches for all of the above-mentioned hacking tools. If the anti-virus software finds anything suspicious, it will delete the infected files. There are plenty of decent, free anti-virus software programs out there.
  2. Use a router with a built-in firewall. This will block hackers from accessing information that travels over the network connection, such as passwords or files.
  3. Update browser and system software regularly. Software updates usually contain important security updates to patch up vulnerabilities in the software.
  4. Use a password managerWithout a password manager, it's easy to fall into the trap of using the same password for every account instead of individual strong passwords. Don't do this - it's one of the simplest ways to expose all of your information online. If you do this, a hacker could access every single one of your accounts.
  5. If offered, use two-step verification. Two-step verification dramatically improves the security of your online accounts. If offered, use it.
  6. Download from trusted sites. We all know how enticing it can be to download free software or media, but we wary of this. Downloading from sketchy sources can be a quick path to a nasty malware infection.
  7. Use encryption to your advantage. A simple way to add a layer of security to your online activities is to use https rather than http when browsing the Internet. Https simply encrypts the data that is sent so that it can't be read by hackers. Look into other cryptography tools such as email encryption and file encryption for more extra security.
  8. Protect your IP address. Use a VPN or proxy to hide your public IP address, which can be found on the homepage.

Don't be an easy target

Scanning fingerprint into phone.
  1. Do not open emails from unknown senders and delete unknown emails. Emails from unknown senders could be phishing email schemes. If you don't know the sender, it's always safe to just avoid it. Additionally, never provide account information to someone via email or text message.
  2. Do not open attachments from unknown senders. Most legitimate companies will not send you unsolicited attachments. Unless you know the sender, AND you know that they are going to send you an attachment, don't open email attachments.
  3. Never put an unknown USB disc into your computer. USB discs can be an easy way for hackers to install malware onto unsuspecting victims' devices.
  4. Back up your data onto an external hard drive or USB. 
  5. Do not click on ads or unknown links. Clicking on ads is simply asking for trouble. If you see an ad for something you like, simply go to that company's website or google the product. As for links, a good way to avoid trouble is to hover your mouse over the link to check and see if the URL is legitimate.
  6. Don't log in to your accounts on public devices. This one is self-explanatory. However, if you absolutely have to log in to a public device, make sure to log out of all of your accounts before you're done.

Device security to Prevent Hacking

  1. Use fingerprint or password un-lock. Always set a security lock to your device when it's not in use.
  2. Learn how to wipe your gadgets. If you ever lose your device, the first thing you should do is wipe its data. 

Stay safe on social media

  1. Pay attention to your privacy settings. The safest option is to make all of your posts private to your friend or follower group.
  2. Don't add strangers. This is another easy one.
  3. Be mindful of what you post. Be careful not to post any personal information on your social media accounts (physical address, phone number, social security number, banking information)

Stay safe on WiFi

  1. Add a password to your home WiFi. This can go without being said. But without a password, your private home network is essentially public.
  2. Avoid Free WiFi like the plague. Free WiFi is the hacker's paradise. It provides hackers with hundreds of unsuspecting victims' personal information like bank account data, potential access to email accounts, and other sensitive data. Know the risks of using free WiFi before connecting.
  3. VPNs are your friend. If you must use public WiFi, a VPN will help.

So What if You Do Get Hacked

Unfortunately, even if you follow all of the safety protocols, you can still get hacked.

If so, don't panic. Instead, wipe your devices remotely, change your passwords, alert the authorities, and warn your personal contacts.

By taking these actions, you can mitigate the damage. You may also learn a thing or two about how you can be safer in the future.