To the uninitiated, hacking may very well be some form of sorcery, which requires something just as mystical to defend against. Now, while it’s true that hacking involves some highly technical stuff that are way beyond the average computer user, it doesn’t mean that us mere mortals can’t do anything to protect ourselves from it. Here are five unbelievably simple ways to defend against even the most seasoned hackers:
1. Use Strong Passwords
Let’s start with your first line of defense against hacking. Strong passwords, especially those that get replaced regularly, make it harder for hackers to get in, the same way a good lock prevents thieves from just storming your home and taking your valuables. I wrote some guidelines on creating and memorizing strong passwords here if you wish to know more.
2. Don’t Do Sensitive Transaction Over Free WIFI
No matter how good your passwords are, determined hackers can still crack it given enough time—and using free WiFi is like sending out an invitation for them to try. All a hacker has to do in this case is use a packet sniffer to intercept and analyze all the information you are sending and receiving over the network. And since there are no physical wires to tinker with, it makes the whole process much easier.
The bottom line is that it’s best to limit your online activities to simple browsing whenever you’re connected to free WiFi. Save more important things like online banking for when you’re at home or are sure that the connection you are using is secure.
But if you must do a sensitive transaction over free WiFi, then be sure to change your password as soon as you have access to a more secure connection.
3. Be Extra Careful When Using Rented or Borrowed Computers
There’s no way to be 100% sure that the computer you are renting or borrowing is free from malware like keyloggers without running it through some rigorous testing first. These malicious software can record and transmit your keystrokes and personal information so easily that you might as well just send a copy of your passwords to the hacker.
As a general rule, just like when using free WiFi, avoid doing any important transactions when you are on someone else’s computer, especially if it’s been used by people you don’t know.
4. Protect Yourself from Malware
On a related note, make sure your own devices are free from all forms of malware. You can have the strongest passwords and use the most secure connection but if your computer is infected with malware, none of it would matter because, again, these programs can easily steal and transmit all your personal data anyway.
Protect yourself by installing (and then regularly updating) a good antivirus software. And, stay away from questionable websites too to further minimize the risk of getting infected. If a link appears dubious or if you don’t know where it leads to, then just don’t click it.
5. Be Wary of Prying Eyes
Some hackers like to go old school and just watch from behind as you type in your passwords—and they’re pretty good at it too! So, the next time you log into any of your accounts in a public place, be sure to check behind you first to make sure that no one’s looking.
Do you have any more hacking defense tips to share? Post them in the comments!