SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – Hackers are out there, and they want your personal information. Bank account numbers, passwords, your identity. It may feel like your computer is under attack with cyber crooks out to get you.
The crime is complex, but the solution is actually pretty simple.
WTOC presents seven simple ways to avoid getting hacked, and put your home computer, laptop, smart phone or iPad on lock-down.
Number 1: Use a Safer Web Browser
Eric Sharpe, Digital Doc of Savannah, recommends FireFox and Google Chrome as the safest bets for a web browser option. 70 percent of Americans use one of those two.
“A lot of people are using Internet Explorer. Unfortunately, they are the victims of a lot of attacks because of a lot of loopholes and security leaks,” Sharpe told WTOC.
Number 2: Use One Credit Card for Online Use
Use only one credit for online shopping, and only one card. It will protect your other credit and debit cards, Sharpe says.
“You can identify the problem right away and contact one credit card company and get the problem fixed immediately,” he said.
Number 3: Use Wireless Security at Home
Which leads us to using wireless security at home. No matter if it’s a laptop, PC or mobile hot spot.
“What that means is you password protects your wireless network so your neighbors or people passing by can’t gain access to your internet service.”
Number 4: Do Not Shop Online Using Public Wi-Fi
Three and four are connected, as experts suggest you not shop online using public wi-fi in a public place. Sharpe says it’s not as secure as you think, and opens you up to anyone else using the same public wireless connection.
“What people do is they sit in their cars or places near these public Wi-Fi access points and then do what is called sniffing,” Sharpe said. “They detect your transaction data and they download it and use it.”
Number 5: Do Not Click on Unknown Links in E-mail or Social Sites
This seems like a no-brainer, but so many people are still falling for shady links, as hackers and schemers pretending to be banks, E-Bay, Pay Pal and others.
“I suggest going directly to their website and look for a customer support line,” he said.
The same goes for claims of amazing video and deals you just have to see on Facebook or Twitter.
“We are so click happy. We have to click open and see what these things are,” Sharpe said.
Number 6: Change Your Password Often
If you click the links mentioned before, you may be forced to change your password anyway. Sharpe says changing your password on a regular basis can keep hackers at bay, but don’t change too often as to confuse yourself.
“Usually, every 3 months or every 6 months is fine,” he said.
Number 7: Pick a Strong Password
If you want to avoid being hacked, the more complex and difficult to guess your password is, the safer you may be.
“Never use the same password over and over on all your accounts and don’t use the last four digits of your social security. It’s the first thing tried by a attacker,” Sharpe said.
None of these steps cost any money, and there are websites which will even test your password and tell you how long it would take a hacker to crack it. Mine took 9 years, another password I use would take 500 years to crack.
Remember, a hacker could be sitting right next to you.
“Someone you trust, even a co-worker, you just don’t know sometimes,” Sharpe said.