Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Avoid Being a Slacker When It Comes To a Hacker

Is anything private anymore?

Think you are exempt from being hacked? Think again! Here are some straightforward tips on how to quickly be reactive if it happens to you. More importantly, reminders on being more proactive and preventative.

Reactive:   You have gotten hacked, here is how to recover:

1. Um, I think your email has been hacked. There's always that one friend that will reach out and tell you. The rest of us just delete the email and move on thinking you already know.  Being alerted that you have been hacked through email, or other accounts can frustrate, stress, and ultimately scare anyone. What does it mean when you have some unknown person creep into your world. You immediately need to change your password. See #2 under "Proactive" for help.

2. Buddy system. You need to immediately let your email contacts know that you have been hacked. Preferably from another account until you have reached out to your account provider and have recaptured your account. If they open up a message from a hacked account, they can become a victim as well.

3. So, you're sayin' there's a chance? You will survive, but you need to be assertive and take back your digital life.  Scan your device for anti-virus, anti-theft updates and software. If you do not know how to accomplish this task, find out! Here is a site to get you started: http://anti-virus-software-review.toptenreviews.com/.  Keep in mind, it is not 100%, i.e. New York Times.

4. Back it up. We carry hours, days and years of memories on our devices and yet we do not take the seconds or minutes to back them up safely. Take the time, it's important and once it is gone, well, it's gone. Do not leave personal, confidential, financial, private (you get the drift) information on any device without backing it up. Even if you think it may not be that important, delete it or place it elsewhere.

5. Blackmail, it happens. Criminal hackers will sell email addresses, photos, financial information, coding flaws, you name it, to other criminals who will then use those valuable materials to spread corruption. Or, hackers will turn around and try to blackmail their victim, especially if they think they will have significant leverage for sufficient monetary gain. If you are experiencing blackmail from a hacker, here some are steps you can take via ic3: http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

Proactive: Here is how to avoid the whole stressful mess of being hacked.

1.  Do the two-step.  That's two-step verification. As if Google wasn't already King, they really have been the leader with this preventive measure. For example, anytime I click "forgot your password" they will ensure I have a message  with a code sent to my cell phone. Which I then have to enter to access my email. Now, if your cell phone is stolen, this could cause a problem. So be sure to set up the recovering settings as you wish to retrieve your account information. Here are instructions on how to do so: http://www.google.com/landing/2step/?utm_campaign=en&utm_source=en-ha-na-us-sk&utm_medium=ha

2, Create a 10-12 password already! Have we really become that lazy, that we can't think up a creative 10-12 password or are we so memory deprived that we just can't remember our passwords. Either way, be a responsible adult and you will be happy in the end.  Hackers love a challenge and deciphering the most common passwords brings them much joy. They do it with easy and are efficient. They can find out all about you in seconds. Choose uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and random word combinations then place it in a safe spot. If you want some good ideas of passwords, I would share a link with you, but that would be an oxymoron, hackers know the codes and habits people use when creating passwords.

3. You do not have a rich long lost cousin in a foreign country trying share his millions with you. This seems like common sense, but you would be surprised how many people fall for this. Same with banks and other companies who send you an email requesting you to verify something, anything. Delete immediately and do not respond. If you are receiving these email at work, please alert your administrator or tech team. 

4.  It's ok not to share.  Why do kids and people share their log in information? It is not safe, nor is it smart. I hear story after story about a student who was nice enough to let someone log into their computer station, shared either social media account info or walked away without logging out of their email account.  Change your behavior and slow down. Ensure you are logging out,  and doing so correctly. Just because you  shut down a system does not necessarily mean you are logged out.

5. Spread the word.  Pay this info forward. Help a brother or sister out, remind them the importance of exporting information from your accounts to other safe places where hackers cannot reach all those valuable photos or irreplaceable documents. Delete emails you do not need or would not want the world to see. CEOs, tech experts (read about Mat Honan from Wired), celebrities, and us common folk all get hacked on a daily basis.

Be proactive and stop the madness. For more helpful tips and how to talk to your kids about Internet safety, visit these websites. Yes, they are safe links. ;)



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