12 Tips to Prevent Hackers From Stealing Your Information

June 03, 2020

1. Consider key features before buying a mobile device.

Smartphones and tablets are useful, but they also come with a special set of potential security vulnerabilities. When you're thinking about purchasing a mobile device, make sure you know the answers to the following questions. If the answer to any of these questions is “no” then strongly consider a different device.

  • Can you change your default password?
  • Does the manufacturer offer software updates? Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and many (but not all) Android products offer consistent updates.
  • Do you have the ability to protect what data is shared?

2. Update your security software.

Before shopping online, make sure your firewall is turned on (If you have questions, search for “check your firewall settings”. There are many informative articles on how to do this.) and download/update your antivirus software. If you don’t already have antivirus protection on your devices, consider “AVG” https://www.avg.com/en-us/homepage#pc on your Android devices, “Malwarebytes” https://www.malwarebytes.com/ on your PC, or “Bitdefender” https://www.bitdefender.com/ for Mac.

3. Check all sites, offers, and emails before you purchase.

Make sure you’re using legitimate, recognized sites for shopping. Before clicking on a link, perform a search for any unfamiliar company through your search engine. You should also closely examine the web address or email sender to confirm the company name is correct. Only make a purchase, click a link, or download an attachment after you’ve done your due diligence. Doing these things will help ensure you’re only using the websites of reputable companies.

4. Use only trusted WiFi networks to make purchases.

Attackers can create their own fake WiFi hotspots or hang around public connections. Make sure you're connected to your password-protected home or office network whenever you want to perform any kind of financial transaction online. It is very common to see bogus WIFI in public places. Do your online banking at your home or office only.

5. Sign up for bank and/or credit card alerts.

Monitor your bank accounts to be aware of fraudulent activity. Many service, credit, and debit card providers let you set up alerts for unusual activity on your account. Companies like Credit Karma https://www.creditkarma.com/ alert you when someone tries to open credit in your name. These are very simple, but crucial steps to help reduce the chances of someone stealing your identity.

6. Only visit secure sites.

Look for the lock symbol and https:// (not just http://) at the beginning of a web address to make sure you’re on a secure connection. Sites with https:// have secured their sites by installing a security certificate called an SSL that secretly codes transaction data while sending and receiving information. But, just because you see the lock, does not mean your connection is 100% secure. Re-look at numbers 3 and 4 on this list above.

7. Use a password manager.

One of the biggest problems leading to identity theft is the use of weak passwords on multiple websites. If you use a password on one site and that password is stolen, it can be used to gain access to other sites.  If you use a password manager, you can store all of your passwords securely in one spot under one private master password. When you want to login, all you have to do is open the website normally and then open the password manager with your master password. The login data is then automatically filled in for the website. OnePass http://www.airdevs.com/ is a good option.

8. Be wary of trick emails (phishing).

Attackers may use fake emails designed to look like legitimate messages from online merchants. This is called “phishing”. Before opening a link, be sure that you truly ordered merchandise from the company, or sign back into their website to track your orders directly. We have seen many fake emails recently from Office 365.

Hackers may also try to lure you in by pretending to be your bank. While banks may send marketing messages via email, the best advice is to access your bank only through its official mobile app or by directly entering the bank’s web address in your browser.

9. Check grammar, word choice, and spelling.

Fraudulent sites and emails will sometimes use odd characters, misspelled names or words, or improper sentence structure in their domain name or content. It’s highly unlikely that a legitimate seller would have so many obvious copy errors.

10. Keep Your Digital Footprint Clean.

Set the privacy and security settings on social media accounts, web services and mobile devices to reduce the amount of private information available about you.

 

11. Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)

If a service or account offers two-factor authentication (the ability to send you a verification code) and you don’t already have it enabled, turn it on. Another tool is to use security key software such as Symantec VIP software. It makes accounts harder for hackers to access.

12. Don’t use USB sticks at all if you can avoid it.

A USB stick can transfer a virus from one machine to another, often undetected. Some of the largest computer security breaches in history have come from the use of USB drives. There are so many examples of such devices being infested with malware that the Department of Homeland Security has a page about it: www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST08-001

Here at WTE Solutions, we love technology. It’s what we do! However, we want everyone to be able to use technology safely and for its intended purposes. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll never be hacked, following the above rules will definitely lower the chances of that happening to you. If you have any technology questions, please feel free to reach out to us at sales@wte.net