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Four Easy Ways to Discourage Hackers

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Having your computer, your email, or your social media accounts hacked is more than just a nuisance. With access to your personal information, the hacker can actually assume your identity.

When my Twitter account was hacked, for instance, the hacker used my account to send out spam posts with links to pornographic websites. Luckily, the powers that be at Twitter quickly realized what had happened and helped me set up a new and more secure account, but the incident did cost me several followers who were offended by “my” posts.

All things considered, I was lucky. A hacker who commits crimes using your online identity may lead the police to your door and necessitate assistance from a criminal defense attorney.

If you want to stop hackers, there are many strategies that don’t require a lot of high-tech knowledge.

#1. Use Strong Passwords

By now, you’ve heard the standard drill. Don’t use the names, birthdates, or anniversaries of anyone in your family for passwords. It just makes them too easy to guess. Past and current pet names are also out, as is the name of the person you happen to be dating at the moment. The best passwords are a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and characters. If you’re sure there’s no way you can possibly remember such complicated passwords, write them down, but keep the list under lock and key.

#2. Avoid Generic User Names

When hacking a computer or a website, it’s easy to guess generic user names like “owner” “admin” or “site administrator.” You also want to steer away from simply using your first or last name or initials. Something like “Smith freelance writer” is more difficult to guess.

#3. Keep Your Antivirus Software Current

Most antivirus programs are automatically set up to check for new security risks and will download and install the information they need to keep your computer safe. If you’ve disabled this automatic function, be sure to run manual checks every week or two to ensure that the software protecting you is as up to date as possible. You should also run a full check on your system at least once a week. If you have reason to think you’ve picked up a virus or malware, don’t want for your next scheduled check-up — run a check immediately.

#4. Watch Out for Scams

Phishing scams, or scams that hackers use to attempt to get personal information like account numbers and passwords, have been around for years. Unfortunately, people still respond to these scams. No legitimate company will ever contact you asking for your account number or password. Ignore emails that make such requests. If you are concerned that your account may be in jeopardy, don’t use the link provided in the email to access it. Instead, manually type in the URL for the company and seek help from a customer services representative.

If you’re willing to take a little extra time and care, it’s not difficult to defend against hackers and protect your personal data and online reputation.

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