There has been a steady increase in identity theft and cyber-attacks by hackers recently, which has made the internet even more dangerous for ordinary users. Lately there have been several instances of massive cyber-attacks like the hacking of the Sony pictures Entertainment website and iCloud during which lot of personal information, e-mails, unreleased movies and even pictures of popular celebrities were leaked all over internet. There were also cyber-attacks targeted even at The White House,U.S. State Department and several international banks. Such instances of cyber-attacks have caused deep fear amongst the users of internet. People are concerned more about the perceived lack of security and confidentiality issues that seem prevalent nowadays. Find below some essential tips to protect your computer from being hacked:
Always keep your firewall up-to-date and turned on:
The Firewall is an important security tool which protects your computer from unauthorized access by hackers and malware. If you have a Windows operating system, it comes with a built-in firewall that you should always keep turned on. It will help in monitoring incoming traffic from the internet and will alert you automatically in case of any suspicious or malicious traffic. For personal computers, it’s sufficient to install a software based firewall, but for larger enterprises with multiple computers you should go for a hardware based firewall. You should define the rules and policies in your firewall so that you can monitor both incoming and outgoing traffic and also block any suspicious traffic. You should also keep your firewall software updated frequently to ensure that it catches all the newest threats.
Use stronger passwords and change them frequently:
You should always use stronger passwords for all your important online accounts as well as your desktop login. The passwords should include combination of lower case and upper case letters, special characters and numbers. Also the minimum length of passwords should be eight characters or more. Do not use common words or names as passwords since they can be cracked easily. Also keep changing your passwords frequently to minimize vulnerability.
Install powerful antivirus software in your computer:
Installing the best antivirus software is very important to protect your computer from hackers and malware. Antivirus software can protect your system from malicious programs like viruses, worms, Trojan horses, adware and spyware etc. Some of the modern antivirus software like Bitdefender Internet security has state-of-the-art machine learning technology which will help in protecting your system from all possible cyber threats without impacting its performance. Modern antivirus software can also protect your system from other kinds of security threats such as rootkits and ransomware.
Install Anti-spyware and Anti-Adware Programs:
Spyware are malicious programs used by hackers to secretly monitor your system and collect confidential data without your knowledge. Also Spyware programs are very dangerous because they will silently monitor your browsing habits and share your passwords and other confidential information to hackers for illegitimate purposes. Adware are programs which place advertisements in your browsers and throws several pop-ups which can be really annoying when you are browsing for some important information. Hence you should install both Anti-spyware and Anti-malware programs in your system to protect yourself from cyber-threats. Some anti-virus programs come as a package and are bundled along with such tools to protect your system from both spyware and adware.
Avoid using public Wi-Fi:
When you browse the internet in public places like shopping malls, bus stations or airports you will be using public Wi-Fi which is not protected with a password. Hence all your information will be transmitted in clear text over the public Wi-Fi which hackers can easily snoop using tools like Wireshark. This can lead to identity theft and loss of sensitive personal information. So, you should be always careful when using internet in public places. Also you should clear your browsing history when you surf in public places. The cookies in your browser will keep track of your surfing habits and the websites you have accessed recently. This can be used by hackers to steal your personal information. Hence you should always clear your browsing history when you use public computers.
Be careful about links present in unsolicited e-mails and phishing websites.
Phishing websites are designed by hackers to steal confidential information like credit card details and bank account passwords from innocent users by fooling them as legitimate websites. Hence you should not share your personal details in any website without verifying its authenticity. Check whether the website uses HTTPS (Hyper-Text Transfer Protocol Secure) or SSL connectivity and ensure that the domain name is legitimate. HTTPS ensures that the website sends all data over internet in encrypted format. Also some hackers send phishing emails to corporate users asking them for passwords of their online account. Phishing mails can also contain links to harmful websites that may result in launch of viruses or malware. So you should always avoid clicking any links present in unsolicited emails. Always perform a thorough scan of your emails by using antivirus software when opening any attachments.