How to NOT get Hacked in 2019
The online world doesn’t seem to become any less alarming. Hacking is an ever-present danger, from man-in-the-middle hijacks to ransomware, tracking malware, official espionage, and phishing resulting from corporate data breaches.
But this year, you can create the defences required to defuse these dangers. Use this list of threats and tips to create a security setup which meets today’s biggest dangers head-on.
1. Stay protected from ransomware attacks
In 2018, some experts thought that we had made progress against the problem of ransomware attacks. In 2017, the NotPetya and WannaCry malware agents wreaked havoc, targeting internet-of-things enabled facilities (and linked to Russian government espionage). And in 2018, the attacks continued.
Anyone can fall victim to ransomware, with devastating consequences. When these agents find their way onto your system, they lock it down, demanding steep ransoms to retrieve access. This can be annoying for individuals, but an existential crisis for businesses.
To avoid becoming a ransomware statistic, make sure you update your anti-malware and antivirus software. And always engage a high-quality VPN. That way, attackers will think twice before registering you as a potential target. Our ExpressVPN review is a good place to start if you aren’t sure which VPN to choose.
2. Make sure you don’t expose yourself to fake websites
Fake websites and phishing in general ranks alongside ransomware as one of today’s major hacking threats. And like ransomware, most people aren’t as well prepared as they could be.
Fake websites are designed to appear just like the real thing. They tend to be the kind of sites which request sensitive user information – such as banks or retailers. Or they could resemble sites like app marketplaces, where users look for useful downloads.
If you click on a malicious link at these sites, the end result will probably be a nasty malware infection. And if you hand over confidential information, you could easily find your bank account much emptier when you next check it.
How can you defend yourself against this kind of attack? It’s mostly about training yourself to spot malicious actors. Look for emails look legitimate but come from dubious senders or messages from businesses with a suspiciously high density of spelling errors.
Be really careful about accepting unsolicited downloads (ie, don’t do it). And, if you find yourself on a site which doesn’t feel right, take extra care. Check to see whether it has contact information for the company. If not, that’s a red flag. And if it asks you out of the blue for any kind of data, get out of there immediately.
3. Be really careful when using public wifi
Most of us use the web outside our home or workplace, and this usually entails logging onto some form of a public wifi network. However, few people understand how risky these networks can be – leaving themselves open to very unpleasant hacking attacks.
Public wifi is inherently unsafe for a few reasons. Routers can be hacked and commandeered by criminals, allowing them to see the data flowing through the network. Malevolent actors can use these networks to stage man-in-the-middle attacks, and login details for social networks or payment portals can be “sniffed”, handing them over to snoopers.
However, this is an area where a good VPN can make a big difference. By anonymizing and encrypting your internet connection, VPNs make it much harder to identify your traffic. So choose an elite VPN with excellent IP leakage protection and you should be fine. Our ExpressVPN review linked to above will point you in the right direction.
4. Guard your data against official hacking
It’s a sad fact, but these days hacking threats don’t just emerge from private criminal networks. Since the Edward Snowden revelations emerged, we’ve known that governments across the world have an interest in monitoring our activities and logging our data. That’s definitely a form of “hacking”, and potentially one which can destroy our fragile democracies.
Anyone with a passing interest in online privacy and security should take steps to neutralize official eavesdropping. And doing so is easier than you might think.
Even the world’s elite security agencies struggle to handle 256-bit AES encryption – the gold standard used by the best Virtual Private Networks. With a VPN installed, your online activity will essentially be invisible to the NSA or MI6 – or the Chinese government for that matter.
5. Protect yourself against data leaks
Some of the worst hacks of the past few years haven’t targeted individuals. They have gone for the motherlode: major corporations with awful security measures.
In 2018, companies as diverse as British Airways, Marriott Hotels, Facebook, and Panera all announced that their systems had been hacked. In all cases, millions of innocent customers were plunged into uncertainty. And that shouldn’t be the case.
So what can you do? Strong password security helps. If you regularly change your passwords and use hard-to-crack terms, data leaks are less likely to affect your key accounts. So using a password manager helps.
And encrypting data with a VPN is also a big help. Often, the information in data leaks is incomplete. But it’s enough to start building profiles of vulnerable targets. In that case, people with VPNs will look much less appealing.