Years ago hackers were seen as shadowy figures lurking in darkened rooms sticking it to ‘the man’, writing wrongs and occasionally nearly triggering nuclear annihilation. These days the vast majority of hackers aren’t after national secrets, they’re after your money. Hackers are no longer computer geniuses who have strayed from the path of good and fallen into criminality; they’re people who have no more technical ability than the ability to read an online tutorial. Yes, there are now websites that teach hacking, although increasingly those who facilitate hackers are paying a high price for their notoriety. But enough of this scary stuff; let’s do something positive to improve your protection.
The easiest way to protect yourself from hackers.
While highly technical ways of hacking to gain your personal details do exist most hackers gain unauthorised access by simply guessing your password. Every time we’ve helped a client recover from being hacked the way that the criminals gained access was by simply guessing a password. Choosing a good password and having to remember it is something that most of us like to have a moan about, but remembering a good password is a lot less effort than putting right the wrongs of identity fraud.
- Don’t use the name of your favourite actor, actress, football team, television show. In short don’t use any words that can be found in a dictionary or are in common use, this includes slang and swearwords.
- Don’t use your children’s names, any part of your postal address or anything to do with your employer. In short don’t use anything that someone using a search engine or social networking could find out about you.
- Make up words – invent a gibberish word and then add a random series of numbers after it (but not your phone number, date of birth or house number).
- Use uppercase and lowercase letters and ‘special’ characters like any of those shown on the number keys on your keyboard.
- Randomly sweep at the keyboard while occasionally pressing the shift button.
- Ask a cat to choose your password by walking over your keyboard.
- Be as obscure as possible.
So having an affective password might give you cause to sigh and roll your eyes each time you need to enter it, but taking a little bit of care in choosing a password really will give your online security a good foundation.