Effective ways to Not Getting Hacked on the internet
The internet is a scary place. It’s full of bad guys waiting to steal your identity and credit card information, then sell them to other bad guys who will try to take what they can from you. Scammers are everywhere, from email messages to social networking sites.
It’s enough to make you want to stay off the internet altogether. However, there are ways you can protect yourself without becoming a hermit or breaking the bank on expensive security software or home network services like AT&T Secure Family. Here are some guidelines for staying safe:
- Use strong passwords.
Using strong passwords can help you avoid being hacked. Here are some tips:
- Use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Don’t use your name, birthday or other personal information.
- Don’t use a series of letters or numbers that are easy to guess. Don’t use common passwords such as ‘123456’ or ‘password’.
- Make sure you’re not using the same password for multiple accounts (it’s best to have separate passwords for each account).
- Don’t open email attachments that you weren’t expecting.
The internet is full of all kinds of wonderful people and information, but it’s also full of hackers. They’re out there looking for ways to steal your data, and one way they do this is by sending you attachments in emails. If you don’t know who the sender is or if the attachment was expected, don’t open it!
For example: if a stranger sends you an email about some kind of job opportunity, don’t click on the attached resume or cover letter (which might be infected with malware). Don’t even view that email from your smartphone; just delete it immediately and move on with your day. The same goes for emails from friends—if they send an email asking if they can borrow $20 bucks because their car ran out of gas while driving home from work and he doesn’t have any cash on him at all right now but could pay back half when he gets his paycheck next week…don’t click links inside the body of that message!
- Don’t click on links in email messages that you weren’t expecting.
With email messages, some hackers will send out their spam using links that direct users to a fake site. If you get an email with a link that isn’t something you were expecting, don’t click it! Instead, go directly to the site yourself and make sure that it’s legitimate before going there. If you’re not sure whether a link is safe or not, then don’t click on it!
- Use antivirus software and a personal firewall.
The next step in protecting yourself from cybercrime is to use antivirus software and a personal firewall. Both are free and easy to install, so there’s no excuse not to use them.
Antivirus software scans your computer for viruses and other malicious software, but it doesn’t block internet traffic. A personal firewall does this by monitoring and filtering internet traffic to make sure it’s safe for you—and only you—to access on your device.
- Be cautious about giving out personal information, even in email messages or on social networking sites.
- Don’t give out personal information, even in email messages or on social networking sites.
- Don’t give away your credit card or bank account information, even over the phone.
- Don’t give away your home address or phone number.
- Don’t give out your email address for reasons other than business purposes (for example, if you get a spam message from someone you know).
- Don’t give out your Social Security number for any reason whatsoever.
- Shop at online merchants you trust.
When shopping online, use a credit card that has a good rewards program. If you pay off your balance every month and make regular purchases, then using a rewards card will be worth it for you.
Look for the https:// at the beginning of the URL. This shows that it’s secure and your information is protected during transmission on the server.
Check to see if there is a padlock icon in your browser (usually on the left side). If so, look for “https” instead of “http” under “Secure Sockets Layer Protocol” in green letters. That means no one can intercept or alter data being sent between you and an e-commerce site – including hackers trying to steal credit card numbers or personal information!
- Log off when you’re done, especially when using a shared computer or public device.
When you log off, you’re not just closing the browser. You are also locking the computer down and making it much harder for someone to access your private information in the future.
This is especially important if you are using a shared computer (such as at school or work) or public device (like an airport kiosk). Don’t leave yourself logged on when using these types of computers!
We’ve covered some basic ways to protect yourself from hackers online. Keep in mind that these methods aren’t foolproof, and there’s really no way to be 100% secure online. But using strong passwords, avoiding suspicious email messages and links, using good security software, being careful about who you give your information to, shopping at reputable merchants and encrypting sensitive data can all help minimize the risk.