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Hi Bracha,

Help! I was recently hacked. It was a nightmare. What can I do to prevent this from happening in the future?

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N. L.

 

Dear N. L.,

I’m sorry to hear about your experience. I hope the hackers didn’t cause too much damage.

Hackers can get into your devices in several ways. Sometimes they install malware on an Internet-connected device by getting you to click attachments or links in an e-mail, text, or pop-up message. Other times they steal your personal information by hacking websites, platforms, or operating systems that possess your information.

While even the most secure systems are vulnerable to hackers, there are a few things you can do to better protect yourself. Will they stop hackers from breeching your systems? Not entirely, but they will certainly make it harder for them.

Update Your Operating System and Software Frequently: Doing so prevents hackers from accessing your private information through vulnerabilities in older programs. Operating systems and software programs frequently offer updates that include security improvements.

Use Secure Connections: Make sure your Wi-Fi connection is secure. As tempting as public Wi-Fi is, only access accounts with personal information from a secure connection. Try not to access your accounts from public computers, which may have malware installed, and always log out when you finish using a public computer. It is usually better to use a cellular connection than public Wi-Fi when accessing sensitive data.

Choose Your Passwords Carefully: Password12345, your name or your birthday are poor passwords as they are easily guessable. Choose passwords that are difficult to remember. Strong passwords generally have 12 characters and include numbers, letters, and special characters. Passwords should be different across platforms and multi-step authentication should be used whenever possible.

The reason? Multi-step authentication usually requires a temporary code sent via e-mail or text message. Hackers won’t receive the temporary code if they discover your password, thereby restricting their access to your account.

Ensure Your Devices Are as Password Protected as Possible: Yes, it can be a hassle to have a passkey, fingerprint lock, or facial recognition installed on your devices. However, the more protected you are, the more difficult it is for hackers to breech your system. Hackers prefer easy targets. If you are difficult to breech, they will usually opt to go elsewhere.

Be Smart with Your E-Mails: Opening links from hackers is the perfect way for them to enter your device. Even if you know the person sending you the link, hover over the URL before clicking it to ensure it is legitimate. It’s always a good idea to check the e-mail address of suspicious emails. Does it seem strange? Is the sentence structure of the body of the e-mail off? It’s probably better to simply delete the message.

Be Careful with the Information You Put on the Cloud: Data stored on the cloud doesn’t really “belong” to you and, most of the time, it isn’t encrypted. So it’s not a great idea to put sensitive information on the cloud unless you know exactly how the one you’re using operates.

Install Antivirus or Anti-Malware Software: If you don’t already have security software, install a firewall and anti-virus software and keep them up to date. Some products posing as anti-virus or anti-malware software are really malware so always do your research before installing anything on your devices to ensure it is legitimate.

Only Install Trusted Applications: Some hackers develop apps that seem to look and function legitimately. In reality, they install malware on your computer. Only install applications from developers you trust or are reputable.

Be Vigilant with the “Save My Information” Feature: Sure, it saves time if your device remembers your passwords and personal information. However, it also means your information is more readily available to hackers.

Ensure Websites You Provide Information to Have HTTPS in Front: The “S” in HTTPS means the website is secure. Whenever you give personal information to a website, be sure to check that it has an “S” – HTTPS, not just HTTP.

I hope these tips help!

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Bracha Halperin is COO of Cazamio and managing partner of JYRG Capital. To comment on her Jewish Press-exclusive tech columns – or to reach her for any other purpose – e-mail her at brachahalperin@hotmail.com. You can also follow her on Instagram or Twitter @brachahalperin.
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