Hackers have broken into billions of accounts throughout the years. It is not altogether unlikely that you have been personally affected by one of these attacks.
You don’t have to be a cybersecurity expert to prepare yourself from hackers. It’s much easier to protect your data, your identity, or your company than you may think.
Thankfully, there are a few resources that will help you create unbreakable passwords, find out whether or not any of your personal accounts have been hacked, and update existing software. Cybersecurity strategies can also help you prepare for hacks and protect yourself.
Here are 6 surefire ways to defend yourself from hacking attacks:
1. Read pressing cybersecurity news
Staying informed about the latest breaches, bugs, and bots will help you defend yourself and even prevent potential hacking attempts.
Major news outlets with regular updates on cybersecurity issues include:
Most national and international newspapers will also highlight issues in technology and cybersecurity. Be sure to keep an eye out for these sections in your daily periodical. Simply reading one or two security stories every few weeks will help keep you in the know.
2. Check if you’ve been compromised
The website HaveIBeenPwned.com allows users to put in account information, such as an email address. HaveIBeenPwned checks its database of millions of accounts. If your account turns up, then it’s been compromised.
If you happen to have a compromised account, you’ll want to change your password as soon as possible. In addition, you’ll want to keep a lookout for any suspicious activity for a few months.
3. Create strong, unique passwords
Passwords are the easiest ways to defend ourselves from hacking attempts. There are simple and effective password strategies that can make your account unbreakable.
The most effective passwords are:
- Unique for every account
- At least 8-12 characters long
- A mixture of numbers, letters, and special characters (like ‘!’, ‘@’, and ‘&’)
- A mixture of lowercase and capital letters
One trick for remembering strong passwords is to create a sentence or meaningful phrase out of the password. So, for example, g00D7Hinkn5!, could be referred to by the phrase “good thinking!”
4. Use a password manager
Password managers take a good chunk of the work out of protecting yourself from hacking attempts. Password managers like LastPass take the guesswork and the grunt work out of creating, storing, and changing your passwords.
With password managers, you can keep all of your passwords in one encrypted location. You’ll never have to enter in your passwords again (save for the master password you use for the manager). You can even generate strong passwords and rotate them automatically so you don’t even have to keep coming up with passwords on your own.
5. Enable two-factor authentication
For important accounts, like your professional or personal email accounts, for example, you can add two-factor authentication. What does this mean? Two-factor authentication provides users with two walls to their accounts instead of just one.
How does two-factor authentication typically work? After entering your password, your phone will receive a secure SMS. This text message will contain something like six-digit code. You are then prompted to enter the code into your web browser. Only after entering the code will access to your account be granted.
6. Update software regularly
Software almost always has bugs, holes, or backdoors. No matter how new a software product may be, there are always exploitable elements. Luckily, software developers are aware of this and have a few measures to fight against these unexpected errors.
Software updates patch software issues. For this reason, it’s of the utmost importance to consistently check for updates. The more outdated your software, the more likely it is hackers will exploit it. Update your software regularly to minimize risk.
Malicious hacking is now a part of everyday life. There’s no reason to panic, however, since there are many ways to prevent breaches and minimize the impact of successful hacks.
Staying informed is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself against cyber attacks. Reading security news can impart new methods and strategies for dealing with threats as well as keep you abreast on the latest issues.
Be sure to check if you’ve been compromised in the past. It’s best to simply face past hacking attacks and work to reduce the risk of further intrusion. Use HaveIBeenPwned.com to assess whether or not you’ve been hacked in the past.
Going forward, create strong, unique passwords and manage them with programs like LastPass. Using password managers will make your life easier and make your accounts more secure. Enable two-factor authentication for even more security.
Remember to check for software updates. Even if you’re using secure programs and employing proven security strategies, you’ll need the latest software to combat threats.