How can you protect yourself from hackers?

It is very important to protect your computer from the theft, or a damage to hardware or software. Hackers use many ways to gain access to computers and steal all sensitive data. We live in the world of a free information where anyone can gain access to anything they want at any time. It means that people with a limited technical knowledge can potentially cause a damage to your computer if you remain inattentive.

How to stay safe online?

1. Physical security matters

Keep your laptop, tablet, and phone with you. Leaving them lying around would be an easy invitation for a potential thief. Use a secure lock screen on your devices. As annoying as it might be, it can save you from a lot of problems in case your computer, phone, tablet or any other device you might have gets stolen. Another good idea is to take regular back-ups at regular intervals and before and after making key data changes. You can keep a few writable CDs or DVDs or SD cards of key back-ups in a secure location such as the roof of your house, the floorboard, or the basement. Most people do not put attention to it until it is too late.

2. Antivirus program is not enough

There are many antivirus programs that provide a very good protection for your devices. However, it is always good to take a few more actions that can keep you safe. One thing to remember is to always put automatic updates on. Many people turn them off because they find it annoying. This is a mistake because malicious attackers look for unpatched systems they can attack. Another obvious thing is a good antivirus program. You can invest in paid antivirus software such as Norton, Bitdefender or Kaspersky. There are also quite good free alternatives such as Avast or Microsoft Windows Defender. A good antivirus program is a must, but it is not enough. Consider using Malwarebytes. It is meant to complement regular antivirus software as it catches the newest, most cutting-edge threats that other antivirus companies may be overlooking.

3. Passwords and encryption

If you have a confidential data on your computer, you should always lock them with a password. It is not a good idea to have one password for all your pages. Once the password is broken, the person has access to all your information. Make sure that your passwords are strong and update them regularly. Your password should not include nicknames, birthdays, quotations, or pet names and it does not matter that you add digits at the end. Any password cracking program can do that as well. Make your passwords fourteen characters or even longer and remember to mix lower case, upper case, digits and punctuation marks together. You may also consider using a password manager such as LastPass, KeePass or 1Password. Another way of keeping your data safe is encrypting your files. Encrypt your files using VeraCrypt Software, Windows BitLocker feature or FileVault for Mac.

4. Basic knowledge

Do not open emails from unknown people or even your friends. Those emails might be infected and your friends might not even know about it! The first thing to do is to check where they point to. Hover the cursor over the link or right-click on the link and select ‘copy link address’ and then paste it into the notepad document and carefully examine it. Stop using pirating software if you do it and be careful about downloading programs from unverified sources from the Internet. Phishing has also become very popular recently. Watch out for emails from companies asking for the change of your personal information such as name, password, bank details or others. These might be hackers disguising themselves as a trustworthy organisation! Also, there are some file extensions that you should be familiar with. The files can cause a  serious damage to your computer once you open them.

Here are some of the extensions you should be aware of:

.EXE – This is the most popular type of Windows files. It contains an executable program that can be run by double-clicking the file.

.BAT – This is a DOS batch file used to execute commands with the Windows Command Prompt. It usually contains a series of commands that it runs once it is opened.

.CMD – This is another type of batch file used by Windows. It can be used for malicious purposes such as deleting data in a directory. It can also replicate itself repeatedly to delete a computer’s resources.

.MSI – This is a Microsoft installer file. It can install various applications on your computer, also malicious ones.

.SCR – This is a screensaver file for Windows. It is used to display graphics, text or videos. A malicious code can be hidden inside them.

Use all or some of the above methods and keep yourself safe by minimising the potential damage from viruses, hackers, and spam. Have you heard of some other ways of protecting yourself against Internet threats? Let me know in the comments below!

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