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6 Ways to stop hackers from ruining your life

Swimming
 Protect yourself and your data. Photo: Courtesy

Here are some of the very minimum things you should do if you want to stop hackers from ruining your life.

Change your passwords often

As with any online service, using a secure password is the first step towards keeping hackers out of your phone. In the case of the celeb nude pic hacks, the hackers were able to access personal data via vulnerability in the Find My Phone feature on the iPhone. Frequently changing device passcodes and account passwords can help to protect yourself. Make sure the password is long, sophisticated, and full of numbers or special characters. And obviously, using the same password across different accounts is a security risk.

Use Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication acts as stop-gap when a new device tries to log into a service or site. For example, with Twitter’s two-factor authentication feature enabled, when you try to log into your account with a new device, it sends you a text message with a temporary password. In other words, you can’t log into an account without your phone and the temporary password sent to that phone. You’ll be alerted when someone is trying to get into your account even if they have your password. Apple, Twitter, Dropbox, Microsoft and Google all use two-factor authentication. Set these up for extra security.

Don’t back up sensitive data on your phone online

If you’re dealing with sensitive images, documents, or videos, its best to keep them off all external servers. That means not allowing services like iCloud, Dropbox, Flickr, Google Drive, and others to auto-upload data to their cloud storage. Instead, keep that sensitive data on an external drive that’s only accessed when you’re offline.

Misinformation

Since you’re already going to start answering questions with lies, you might as well make your online persona a den of fabrications in the name of security. Change all the key things that are used by companies as security questions. This includes your birthday, billing address, birth location, and family ties. Birthdates can prove to be a huge security risk. Just move your birthday on Facebook a few days forward or back and maybe even change the year or hide it. Most people won’t even notice and for those that do, just tell them why and suggest they do the same. Also, if you’re already friends on Facebook with family members, there’s really no need to advertise that you’re also family. A smart hacker can determine your mother’s maiden name via aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Your mom doesn’t even need to be on Facebook for her maiden name to be known.

Check your privacy settings on social media accounts

It’s important to note that certain information is always available to the public, including your name, profile picture, cover photo, gender, networks, username, and user ID. Facebook has different privacy settings for many aspects of a user’s social profile. Privacy settings for photos, status updates, friends’ lists, and likes must all be adjusted individually. To keep your information as secure as possible from strangers, avoid any “public” settings. Avoid oversharing life details, locations and photos of your children as these can be used by pedophiles, potential kidnappers or by cyber thieves to access sensitive accounts, create fraudulent identities, and compromise careers.

Be aware

Be conscious of your Internet activities, what links you click on and what information you share. Don’t take digital photos. If you absolutely must go digital with your sexy pics, have a dedicated digital camera just for taking selfies. Keep your photos on a memory card, and only review the images on a computer that is not connected to the Internet.

Here’s the bottom line for protecting images of your body: don’t take any pictures of yourself that you would be upset about seeing online. The average person might not be as appealing a target as a sexy celeb, but that doesn’t mean normal folks (and their nude pics) can’t be targeted by hackers. If you don’t take naked pics of yourself, then there’s nothing for a nudie-obsessed hacker to steal...and nothing for you to be embarrassed about.

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