7 tips to avoid being hacked

27 September 2016 by Antoine Valette

In our previous post, we discussed the different types of hackers. Today, in this tough world of computing, we will explore some easy steps you can take to protect your data and avoid being hacked.

1.     Use your common sense

It is the first step in preventing attacks from hackers. Beware of suspicious messages: sending emails to you is a common technique as they will contain malware that will attack your security. This is why it is important to always check the addressee, not open any attachments and not click on the links without having conducted an audit.

You should also be wary of emails with doubtful contents sent to you by your friends as their email accounts may have been hacked, too.

2.     3 ways to check the reliability of the websites you visit

To check the reliability of a website there are several methods you can follow. The most common ones include:

  • Some antiviruses and browser extensions estimate the risks you will take by visiting a specific website and usually note this with a colored dot next to your Google search.
  • Check the hyperlinks destination. When you hover your mouse on a hyperlink, the link where it leads to will appear at the bottom left of your web browser. This allows you to know whether you will be sent to the right site.
  • The last method to check if a website is reliable is the presence of a padlock and HTTPS next to the web page link. This allows the user to verify the identity of the website they will visit through an authentication certificate. It ensures the confidentiality and integrity of any data sent by the user by encrypting it. This is most commonly used for online financial transactions such as electronic trade, online banking or consulting private data.

3.     Two-factor authentication

During the authentication on a website, you can set up double authentication to protect your account. It adds a level of security to your account, whether on social networks or any other website. In addition to your regular password, the site will ask you a unique code that will be sent to your mobile phone. So, a person who knows your password cannot do anything unless they have access to your mobile. In case of an attempt of intrusion into an unknown machine, the website will send you an SMS notification to change your password.

4.     The good management of your passwords

It is also important to remember to regularly change passwords (approximately every three months) and preferably to choose complicated passwords (composed of uppercase, lowercase, figures and symbols). By doing this, it will complicate the software performed decryption making it harder to be hacked.

It is also necessary to avoid sharing email passwords with friends - should an attacker access your friend’s email, he would have instant access to your account.

5.     Use firewalls and antiviruses

These are crucial tools for your protection against hacking. They have many security features and can scan your computer to detect any intrusion and/or infection, implement a filter against external intrusions and enhance resident protection.

Of course, the world of hacking is evolving very quickly, therefore it is important to update your antivirus, firewall and operating system to ensure you have the latest tools to protect yourself against external threats as well as to correct any potential weaknesses.

6.     Backup your data

It is essential to keep an up to date backup of your data. Should you ever be infected by malware, you will still be able to recover a “healthy” system from the backup data. This is why it’s also important to regularly back up your data on different storage media to increase your chance of preserving it.

7.     Use encryption solutions

Encryption is the process of transforming information (referred to as plaintext) to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing a decryption "key".

Most encryption solutions offer the option to create an 'emergency disk' that contains this key, which enables professionals to decrypt the data. In turn, this key contains the 'cypher', which dictates how the data is encrypted. Thus, only the person that possesses the key will be able to read your information.