how to protect yourself from hackers

In the past year, 61% of businesses have dealt with a cybersecurity attack. Though that sounds bleak, there are many things you can do as an individual and an organization to increase your cybersecurity.

Read on to learn how to protect yourself from hackers with our top 10 tips.

1. Use Two-Step Verification for Logins

If you truly care about learning how to protect yourself from hackers, you will employ two-factor authentication whenever possible.

Yes, it takes a few extra seconds to log in, but it is worth it to avoid cyber attacks. Use two-step verification for your social media sites, email, online banking and anywhere else that allows it.

So what is two-step verification? Basically, once enabled, when you try to log in, the system will send you a text message with a code you need to enter in order to log in.

That means that if a hacker tries to get into your account, he or she would not only need your password but also access to your phone.

Also, if you get a two-step verification text on your cell phone and you aren' trying to log in, you can assume a hacker is trying to log in as you. You can then take immediate steps to protect yourself from future attempts.

2. Use a Different Password Everywhere

Did you know that a regular computer can hack a 10 character password in under 15 minutes? A supercomputer can crack a password in seconds.

Imagine that you use the same password for Facebook, email login and mobile banking. If hackers crack one of your passwords, they will have access to all your accounts. They can then lock you out of your banking, email and social media accounts.

The best hacker protections include using a different password for each login. You can use a password keeper to store your passwords for each site.

3. Steer Clear of Phishing Scams

Common sense isn't so common these days. Especially as cyber-attacks become more convincing and seem legitimate. In fact, ransomware has seen a 119% increase in 2019.

If a website or email you get seems suspicious, don't engage. Never click on URLs without hovering over the hyperlink first and checking where it leads.

Let's say you get an email you think is from a friend. Included is a hyperlink that reads, "check out my google drive full of photos from my trip."

Before you click, hover over the blue words. If the link goes to URL with a bunch of strange characters, don't click!  Also, If you see a bunch of % symbols in the URL, beware.

If you are wondering if a website is authentic, look for the little padlock on the left corner of the URL bar.

4. Stay Current

Make sure that your computer and browsers are up to date on security patches. These updates tend to fix known attacks or known weak spots that are vulnerable to cyber attacks.

If you use, Java, Adobe and other third-party applications, keep them up to date. This makes it more difficult for cyber attacks.

5. Use a Passcode on Your Devices

If you are like most people, your phone and tablet are full of sensitive data. Without a passcode, you make it so easy for anyone to access your information if your device is lost or stolen.

A four-digit PIN has 10,000 possible combinations. Better yet, a six-digit code has 1 million possible combinations.

You can also use your fingerprint to unlock your phone as another way to secure your device.

6. Be Careful What You Share on Social Media

People love to share their daily life on social media. It's part of today's culture. But be careful with how much you are disclosing online.

Hackers look at your day-to-day activities, where you go, where you spend and so on. They can use these details to attack you.

So think twice about checking in to Starbucks or an airport. And never post those viral posts that tell everyone what color hair you have, your first pet's name and your mother's maiden name.

This is information that could lead to cyber-attacks.

7. Protect Your Personal Information

Your personal information is the main thing hackers use to get access to your data.

Your credit card number, social security, address, and birthdate can give cybercriminals the foot in the door they need to steal your identity.

Beware of phone calls that ask for your personal information. If you get a call from your bank or credit card company, tell them you will call them back.

But don't just hit redial. Find the official telephone number listed on the company's website.

8. Beware of Public Wi-Fi

A big part of IT security is staying safe on public Wi-Fi. Especially as you travel.

Remember, a public Wi-Fi is less secure than a private line. You don't know who set it up or who else is connected to it.

Ideally, you would use your own hotspot instead of public Wi-Fi. But if you do need to use public Wi-Fi, only connect to HTTPS and never to HTTP.

The S in HTTPS stands for secure, remember that!

Don't AirDrop or FileShare while connected to a public network. It's easy for hackers to grab it during the transfer.

9. Use a VPN

Install a VPN on all your devices.

This will encrypt any data that is being shared from your device when you are connected to public Wi-Fi.

This is a great cyber protection investment, especially if you often use the internet when you are away from your home or desk.

10. Disable Third-Party Permissions

Many of us get in the habit of downloading apps and software on our devices without giving it a second thought.

Yet, these third-party applications have certain permissions turned on without notifying the owner. An app may be able to track your location, back up your data, or display your phone number.

Best cybersecurity practices involve diligently managing these permissions. Turn off whatever settings you don't feel comfortable with.

Final Thoughts on How to Protect Yourself from Hackers

Thanks for reading! We hope these 10 tips on how to protect yourself from hackers help you stay safe and secure online.

Though some of these tips may require extra time, they will save you countless hours and frustration that comes due to cyber attacks.

Are you concerned about the strength of your network? Contact us for a free network assessment.