Back in the '90s, the expansion of the World Wide Web (yep, that’s what we called the Internet back then) ushered in an era of incredible opportunities and opened the door to new industries. The new technological advances, however, came at a price, as they brought with them new challenges. Email accounts were plagued by the constant bombardment of spam, and viruses wreaked havoc on computer networks. Hackers expanded the scope of crime to include stealing people’s personal data online and duping them into giving out confidential information. This put people’s privacy, finances, and even their identities at risk.
| A cyberattack happens every 39 seconds - Making them the average American’s biggest fear.
Unfortunately, since the '90s, the situation hasn't improved; in fact, hacking threats have grown more sophisticated and elusive. It seems that the more we embrace technology, the wider we inadvertently open the door for cybercriminals, creating an endless tug-of-war.
But let’s shake off all that negativity because there’s a way to win this never-ending battle, and we’re going to show you how! In this article, we’ll share the top 10 ways you can protect yourself and your computer from hackers. Spoiler alert, being proactive and using cybersecurity tools like Guardio are probably the best ways to make sure you’re safe online. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Put on your swimming goggles, and let’s dive in!
Have you ever been hacked? You can easily find out!
At first glance, computer hacks might seem like a mere inconvenience or something that happens to others. You might be wondering, “What if my computer gets hacked, so what? My vacation pics and Spotify playlist get stolen – who cares?” But in reality, this seemingly trivial scenario underscores a much larger issue. While losing personal files and entertainment might not seem catastrophic, it's just the tip of the iceberg.
When your computer is compromised, it opens the door to a host of more significant dangers. Hackers can exploit stolen information for financial gain, potentially leading to drained bank accounts, stolen credit card numbers, hijacked social media accounts, and even identity theft. They can also exploit your compromised device as a launching pad for more extensive cyberattacks, affecting not only your life but potentially your friends and families.
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Whether you're a tech guru or not, the reality remains the same: cybercriminals are equal-opportunity assailants, targeting both the digitally seasoned and the technologically uninitiated. Mat Honan, a senior writer for WIRED, had to learn that the hard way. In the span of a single hour, Mat's digital life unraveled, shedding light on the vulnerability that lies beneath our interconnected world.
The attack began when hackers compromised his Google account, wiping out all of his personal data and digital memories. But the story doesn't stop there. The hackers proceeded to seize control of his Twitter account, unleashing a barrage of hateful, racist, and homophobic messages. Not only was this intrusion into his online persona invasive, but it was also deeply distressing.
Yet, the most catastrophic blow was yet to come. Mat's AppleID account was breached, unleashing a nightmare scenario. The hackers remotely wiped all data from his iPhone, iPad, and MacBook—effectively erasing his digital existence.
In the aftermath of this digital nightmare, Mat's ordeal wasn't confined solely to the loss of data and the hijacking of his online presence. The consequences rippled through every facet of his life. His online identity had been stolen, his integrity undermined, and his financial information exposed to malicious actors. The damage reached beyond the digital realm, tarnishing his reputation and sowing the seeds of distrust.
Knowing how to protect yourself from hackers is crucial - Here are the top 10 ways to protect your computer from hackers, plus some practical tips:
Regular software updates: Ensuring all your software, including your operating system (OS), is up-to-date is critical. Developers release updates to fix security vulnerabilities that hackers try to exploit. Setting your system up for “automatic updates”, will guarantee that your defenses are up to date in case of any emerging threats.
Use firewalls: Firewalls serve as your computer's first line of defense against unauthorized access from the internet. They monitor incoming and outgoing network traffic, blocking or allowing data based on a set of security rules. A well-configured firewall can prevent hackers from infiltrating your system. Whether you use Windows, Chrome OS, or have a Mac, built-in firewalls are usually preinstalled in your system. Make sure they’re on in your System Preferences.
Secure your Wi-Fi network: Open Wi-Fi networks are vulnerable to intrusion. To protect your home network, enable WPA3 encryption and choose a strong, unique passphrase. Also, change your router's default login credentials and regularly update its firmware for security patches. Learn more.
Invest in quality anti-malware & antivirus software: Simply put, getting top-notch online security software is like putting a digital fortress around your precious data. Antivirus programs, as their name suggests, tackle classic threats like viruses. But let's face it, the bad guys have evolved. That's where online security software swoops in to detect and boot out a whole bunch of nasty stuff, from phishing attacks to spyware and Trojans. That’s where Guardio comes in - Guardio is a browser extension and app that blocks cyber attacks and hackers from gaining access to your computer in the first place.
Having Guardio on your side means you're ready to face whatever the cyber world throws at you. They've got your back with a 7-day free trial. Yep, you read that right—try it out, risk-free! And if it's not your jam, no worries, you can cancel anytime. But here's the cool part: Guardio's got your whole crew covered. Protect yourself, and toss a security shield around up to four family members. It's like having a digital superhero squad for the whole family!
Guardio doesn't stop at the basics, either. It's like a cyber detective scanning the web and even the mysterious dark web to make sure your data isn't hanging out where it shouldn't be. And here's the kicker: identity theft protection. Because we all deserve some peace of mind in this wild, digital frontier.
If you've ever been hacked, you know your bank account, email, and other online accounts are all on shaky ground. That's where Guardio's online security software steps in. It blocks hacking attempts and protects you from other online threats!
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Avoid suspicious links and emails: Phishing attacks are a common way hackers compromise systems. Be cautious of unsolicited emails or messages containing suspicious links or attachments. Verify the sender's identity and don’t click on links or download email attachments if you’re not sure where exactly they’re coming from.
Password best practices: Create strong passwords for each online account. Utilize a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, special characters, and make sure they are unique. Consider using a password manager to securely store and autofill your passwords. Change passwords periodically, especially after data breaches.
Regular backups: Regularly back up your important data to cloud services or external drives. This practice ensures you can recover your data in case of a ransomware attack, hardware failure, or data loss. Automated backups are especially convenient and reliable.
Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to provide two or more forms of verification to access an account. This typically includes something they know (password) and something they have (a temporary code sent to their smartphone). Enabling MFA significantly enhances account security.
Be cautious with downloads: Only download files or software from reliable and official sources. Avoid downloading content from unofficial or suspicious websites, as they may contain malware or other security risks. Always verify the authenticity of the source before downloading anything.
Educate yourself on the latest scams: Stay informed about the latest online scams and cyber threats. Knowledge and awareness are powerful defenses. Regularly read about cybersecurity news, attend webinars or workshops, and educate yourself about common tactics used by hackers.
Hacking poses a multitude of threats that extend far beyond the realm of personal computer data breaches. It's a landscape where hackers have the power to destroy governments, take down major corporations, and disrupt critical infrastructure. Given their capacity to target major players, it's crucial to understand just how easily they can affect you. Here are some alarming examples:
- Financial loss: Hackers can access your online banking and financial accounts, transfer funds, or make unauthorized withdrawals.
True story: In 2016, the Bangladesh Bank heist resulted in hackers stealing $81 million from the bank's account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
-Ransomware attacks: Hackers can encrypt your files or lock you out of your computer until you pay a ransom.
True story: The WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 affected over 200,000 computers across 150 countries, demanding Bitcoin payments from victims.
-Privacy invasion: Hackers can gain access to your webcam and microphone, spying on your personal life without your knowledge.
True story: The BlackShades malware allowed hackers to control victims' webcams and was used for extortion and spying.
Data breaches: If you work for an organization, a hacker gaining access to your computer can result in a data breach, exposing sensitive company information and customer data.
True story: The Target breach in 2013 compromised credit card information for over 41 million customers.
Stolen intellectual property: If you're involved in research or innovation, hackers can steal your intellectual property, patents, or trade secrets, harming your business or career.
True story: APT 41, a Chinese state actor, has orchestrated a lengthy cyber operation, stealing trillions in intellectual property from 30 global firms in manufacturing, energy, and pharmaceuticals.
Destruction of data: Hackers can delete or corrupt your important files, causing data loss and potential business disruptions.
True story: The NotPetya ransomware attack in 2017 caused widespread data destruction and operational disruption.
Extortion and blackmail: Hackers may discover sensitive or embarrassing information and use it to blackmail you.
True story: The Ashley Madison data breach in 2015 exposed user information, leading to extortion attempts.
Compromised online reputation: Hackers can impersonate you on social media or post damaging content, harming your personal or professional reputation.
True story: High-profile Twitter account hacks leading to false statements and damage to reputations.
Identity theft: Hackers can steal your personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, and credit card information. They can then use this information to impersonate you, commit fraud, or make unauthorized purchases.
True story: The Equifax data breach in 2017, where hackers stole sensitive personal data of 147 million individuals.
In an era where convenience and connectivity go hand in hand, the threat of hackers and cyber attacks is very real. Your digital security is, quite literally, your first line of defense in today's interconnected world. By following the tips we provided, you can protect your online fortress and significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to hackers. From regular updates to vigilant email practices and quality cybersecurity tools like Guardio, you can take control of your digital destiny.
As the battle between cybercriminals and cybersecurity continues to evolve, remember that your safety is a top priority. Embrace the knowledge and strategies outlined here, and stay informed about the ever-changing landscape of digital threats. By doing so, you can navigate the digital frontier with confidence, knowing you've taken proactive steps to protect yourself and your digital world.