How to Stop Hackers from Stealing Your Online Information

Last year saw quite a few internet hacks that rocked the online world to its core. By the end of the year, a feeling of vulnerability permeated the atmosphere as people scrambled to secure their data. Aside from the Sony hack, a notable end of year hack that hit home for many people were the iCloud hack and the theft of dozens of nude celebrity photos. The question from this hack remains: what could the celebrities have done to protect their online data from hackers stealing it and posting online for the entire world to see?

The internet world is no longer the safe haven it started out to be more than 50 years ago. More and more instances of theft and fraud crop up daily leaving no one unharmed. People today rely heavily on their computers and mobile devices to store their sensitive information; information that, in paper form, would be shredded without hesitation. Technology is continuously churning up new and inventive ways of storing information faster and more efficiently.

Keeping that data safe is the prime objective of every person online today. There are several ways of keeping your data safe and secure from prying eyes. Some of them are very elaborate. Many of the most effective methods of keeping your information secure are by far the simplest and easiest to use. A little common sense goes a long way when it comes to your online security.

Strong Passwords

One of the most effective ways to secure your online information and data is to use strong passwords. The most common and easiest password to hack is ‘123456′. Another standard password people use that hackers catch on to very quickly is an individual’s date of birth. These are but two examples; however they are the worst ones to use.

A strong password is one that is: 1.) Personal to you and you alone, 2.) Contains at least six characters; one in Capital and at least one number or symbol. By making the password something that is personal to you and you alone, you decrease the chance of being hacked. Making at least one letter in the password capitalized and choosing at least one number and/ or a symbol such as an exclamation point, a question mark or an asterisk, you further ensure your accounts are locked down tight.

Note: Storing your strong passwords in a file on your computer is much like leaving your keys in your locked door–on the outside of your house. Keep your strong passwords on paper or somewhere physical where a hacker cannot get to them.

Cloud Storage

Even though the celebrity nude photo hack occurred in a cloud storage site, cloud storage is still a safe place to store your data. Using a strong password and two-level authentications like security questions and passwords can ensure your safety. Know the cloud site you are using. Read their privacy policy thoroughly, educating you about what they can and will do in the event of a breach, the methods they use to ensure your security and what information is allowed storage on the site.

Common sense, however, should dictate to you to be very mindful of what you place in the “cloud”. If you have something you do not want people to see, do not put it in the cloud, period. While the celebrity hack was a horrible breach of privacy, placing nude photos of you in the cloud is not the best or smartest method of storing such sensitive information. It pays to use a little common sense when you decide to store information in the cloud.

Virtual Private Network

Staying completely anonymous online is the endgame here, and a virtual private network or VPN is the best tool for that. VPN keeps your online activity and data safe through encryption and data tunneling. Secure connections through a VPN hide your identity, keeping you completely anonymous. Businesses and governments alike use VPN to conduct top secret business. VPN uses multiple servers in various countries to “bounce” your incognito IP address from place to place, making your traffic virtually impossible to trace.

Sharing Your Information

The most common sense approach to keeping your data from being stolen by hackers is to be careful what you submit online. Social network sites love to get you to disclose your information like your date of birth and address. The two pieces of information is all a hacker needs to steal your life right out from underneath you. Approach data sharing online with caution; not all of your information need be disclosed over the World Wide Web.

Setting up online bank accounts should be done in your local bank location, not over the internet. Be wary when opening up a bank account online or applying for a credit or money lending loan. Many sites and mobile device apps have a ‘sync’ feature that allows you to link all of your email and social network accounts together. This is akin to leaving your front door wide open for anyone to just walk in and take your stuff. Keep your accounts separate from each other each with its own strong password.

Antivirus Software

Phishing scams are the new normal in today’s online world. A pop-up (or pop-under) window as innocent as winning a lottery contest can have serious repercussions for your online security. Keep your system safe with Antivirus software specially developed to thwart and stop malicious spyware, adware and phishing sites.

Malware of all types can not only steal your information from your hard drive and cloud storage, but they also destroy your hard drive leaving your operating system dead in the water. A good Antivirus software program will not only stop malware but will also keep your system up to date with scheduled scans and periodic updates to the latest malware on the web.

While there are still many more methods to keeping your data safe from hackers, common sense does go a long way. Do not store any information you do not want anyone to obtain and exploit online. Be mindful of who you share your information with online. Keep your accounts separate, linking accounts with one another is like putting all of your valuables on your front lawn. Antivirus software, VPN and cloud storage can all ensure your online safety by keeping your data encrypted and locked down tight. Use your head and take that extra little step, your data is your life online. Keep it safe.

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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