5 Practical Tips to Avoid Getting Hacked

Getting hacked in today’s digitalized world is a real threat that could have serious consequences. Individuals are just as prone to getting hacked as companies. A hack can lead people to fall victim to credit card fraud, personal information leaks, and much more. 

It’s crucial to know how to minimize this risk. This article will help you do exactly that. Here are 5 practical tips that will help you avoid getting hacked.

Store your sensitive data securely

While most hackers aren’t very selective about their targets, victims who store sensitive data on their devices are certainly more enticing. Sensitive data includes:

  • personal information 
  • credit card details
  • social security numbers
  • passwords, and more.

Sensitive data should be particularly well protected, as it can lead to significant consequences if it ever gets hacked.

The best way to protect sensitive data is to store it via an encrypted cloud backup service. Many cloud backup services are available, allowing you to store data from various drives and devices securely.

You can access the backed-up data through the service’s web portal or have it delivered to you on a hard drive.

Use strong passwords

It’s 2022, yet people still use passwords like ‘12345’ or ‘first+last name.’ Even prominent politicians and businesses aren’t immune to this fallacy. But, while these passwords are easy to remember, they are easier to hack.

As a rule of thumb, you should make sure all of your passwords are at least 12 characters long and contain uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Generally, the longer the password and the more difficult it is to remember, the better. 

Complicated passwords are much less susceptible to password guessing techniques like brute force attacks. You should also never repeat the same password for several accounts. This will just make all accounts vulnerable if just one of them gets hacked.

Learn how to spot phishing attacks

Phishing is a common tactic that hackers use, where they send deceptive and fraudulent messages designed to trick the victim into revealing personal or otherwise sensitive information. Phishing attacks are mainly distributed through email or text messages.

The most common way people fall for phishing is through the habit of clicking on everything before thinking. Even individuals who are very cyber-aware can fall victim to phishing. The most common phishing scams request an urgent response or pretend to be someone they’re not like the IRS or the victim’s boss. This sense of urgency is precisely why most people fall for them. 

There’s no foolproof way to avoid phishing. But, you can protect yourself by being selective with everything you click on or download. You should also avoid interactions with unfamiliar phone numbers or email addresses.

Keep everything updated

Whether it’s your phone, tablet, or computer, threat actors are constantly looking for loopholes on all fronts. Manufacturers regularly release software updates to patch up these loopholes and improve the security of their products. 

If you aren’t updating the system and software you use, hackers can take advantage of old bugs and vulnerabilities to gain unauthorized access.

Adding to the previous point, if you’re using a computer running on Windows XP or a similarly old OS, it would be best to either upgrade to a newer system or stop connecting to the internet from that device. Older operating systems no longer receive updates, so if you keep using them, it’s only a matter of time before you get hacked.

Turning on automatic updates is the best solution to ensure that your system is always running the latest version of the software, even if it comes at a slight performance cost.

Use a VPN

As its name suggests, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) converts a public internet connection into a private network, providing security and anonymity to the user. The VPN masks your IP and renders all your actions untraceable. 

While VPNs are helpful even with protected WiFi connections, they are particularly handy when you’re using public networks in coffee shops, hotels, gyms, or any other place that offers free WiFi. This is because public WiFi commonly lacks encryption. The problem with this is that hackers who are smart enough can easily intercept a user’s connection with unencrypted WiFi and steal all data they transmit.

The VPN will hide your actions and downloads, making it impossible for hackers to track your activity and potentially exploit it for their benefit.

Final thoughts

Cybercrime is at an all-time high, so individuals and businesses have to do everything in their power to limit the risks of getting hacked. These hacks can have serious consequences, such as sensitive data leaks, financial theft, and more.

By implementing the methods in this article, you can significantly improve your cyber resiliency. With that said, always be on the lookout for new threats and ways to mitigate them.

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