Steps you can take to keep hackers at bay

David Pollino
Posted by David Pollino

Americans fear being hacked more than they fear having their homes burglarized, according to a recent Gallup survey.

Middle-aged man looking with concern at his computer monitor.I wonder if people believe they can take precautions to avoid having their home targeted by criminals, but feel there is nothing they can do to prevent being a target of hackers. In fact, there are a number of simple steps individuals and small businesses can take to help protect themselves from hackers.

Although there is no silver bullet against hackers, these four moves may provide an added level of protection to help you avoid being a victim of cyber criminals:

1) Turn on two-factor authentication on all services that allow it, including email, cloud services (such as Dropbox and iCloud), and social media sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook. Two-factor or out-of-band authentication helps protect you by requiring a second form of identification when your password-protected sites and services are accessed from a new device.

2) Watch your accounts. This may include routinely checking your account balances and transactions online and on your mobile devices, and using account alerts through texts and emails to notify you of deposits, withdrawals, or low balances.

3) Be savvy on social media. Avoid oversharing personal details, such as location. If you wouldn’t announce to the world that you are out of your home for two weeks on vacation, why would you share a GPS-imbedded photo on Facebook while you are in Machu Picchu?

4) Be aware of common scams — such as phishing and masquerading — and keep your software and apps updated to reduce your vulnerability. A couple of valuable sites for staying current on threats are the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team and KrebsonSecurity.

The recent Gallup poll demonstrates that Americans are acutely aware of cyber-threats in our day-to-day lives. Just as deadbolts, good lighting, and security systems can protect our homes from burglars, we can all take steps to help reduce the risk from hackers. It is good to be aware of cyber-security risks, but the bottom line is you should also try to make yourself a more difficult target.

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