I constantly see people’s
Facebook posts, emails and tweets about how their
email/twitter/facebook/google/yahoo/bank account/whatever got hacked. I
want to outline how people typically get hacked and what you can do to
prevent that. I’m going to try to number these in order to make it clear
and concise.

6) Having inadequate antivirus/protection
Arguably, this could be number one. You just need to have good software.
There are several free solutions out there, so there’s no excuse. If
you’re a Windows user I highly recommend Microsoft’s Security Essentials (free). Even if you’re using a Mac, then you need to have good antivirus nowadays. I recommend taking a look at Sophos Mac Home Edition (free). Finally, if you’re a Linux user…we’ll you’re just awesome. Still, you can get antivirus too by grabbing ClamAV.

5) Leaving your account signed in on a computer (or having your browser remember passwords)
You may have signed into Gmail on that computer in the hotel. But did
you know it won’t sign you out, even if you close the browser? That
cookie with your information already made it’s way to that computer,
wide open for any passerby to get into some of your data. This can
happen with your work computer too, so always make sure to either use
private mode…have sites “never remember” your password, and lock your PC
when you leave it. If someone gets on your PC, it’s very easy to
retrieve the saved passwords from your browser.

4) Signing up for and installing random crap
Every time you sign up for something, they get a little piece of your
personal information. This is especially true with mobile apps. Whenever
you install an app on your phone, it can easily hook into another app
or another part of your phone. Facebook apps are notorious for scanning
your profile for pertinent information. In the old days, you’d have a
lot of crap software installed on your computer. Nowadays that crap
software is installed to your Facebook profile….delete those “apps” and
delete other apps from your phone that you no longer use.

3) Losing track of all your accounts on the web
Think of all the things you’ve ever signed up for, how many online
stores you’ve made accounts with. It’s easy to lose track of all the
accounts that you have out there, and many of them have lot’s of details
about your personal information. Try to go through your accounts, and
close out any ones you don’t use or need anymore. Hackers can easily get
into “mom and pop’s” online shoe store.

2) Using the same exact password for many sites
This is pretty self-explanatory. I don’t recommend it. What I like to do
is “tier” my password complexity. So for accounts and services that
don’t have much impact to my identity, I’ll use a slightly easier to
remember password for all of them. For high security accounts (banking,
etc) I’ll use a more complex and more random password, and seldom using
it again for another service.

1) Having a terribly easy password
Your password is “Password” or “Fido” or “Obama” or it’s “John123″ or 
“Petey55.” These passwords are weak and easy for a computer bot to
crack. Make it stronger! Use as many special characters as you can. It
can never be too secure. For critical things, don’t take a risk – make
it long and complicated. Also try to change the password periodically to
keep hackers from guessing.

These are just basic tips to keep you protected. There are much more
advanced techniques. The last thing you’d want is to be directly
targeted by a hacker…for that you’ll need some more heavy duty
protection, which I’ll outline in a later blog post.

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