Whether it is a well know website or a friend’s Facebook page, it seems like someone is always getting hacked. The first thought after hearing the news may be, thank goodness it wasn’t me – but could it have been? How vulnerable are you and your website to an attack? A few steps and some added caution can help prevent a lot of headache.
Password is not a Good Password
Are you using “password,” “123456,” or anything else on the Top 25 Most Common Passwords list? If so, it’s time to update your passwords! We all want a password that is easy to remember, but what is easy for us is also helpful to hackers. This is not an individual trying to guess your password (though that is still possible); it is a computer programmer guessing thousands of username and password combinations. Short passwords with all lowercase letters will be cracked in seconds. The more complexity you add to your password (more characters, upper and lowercase letters, numbers, special characters) the more difficult it is to crack.
So you carefully come up with a long, complex password and proceed to use that for everything. That’s okay, right? Wrong! If your password gets compromised, rather than one site the hacker now has access to many sites, perhaps even your back account. Ideally, each password you use should be unique, only used for one site. A password manager tool such as Roboform can help save these passwords and generate as many long, complex passwords as you want.
Keep It Updated
Do you have multiple updates waiting to be applied to your WordPress or other CMS, server, web browser, or operating system? The time to apply those updates is now! Hackers exploit known vulnerabilities and keeping everything up to date is a great way to stay a step ahead (or at least not way behind).
No Phishing Here
If you receive an email that is designed to either induce panic (your bank account has been compromised) or excitement (you won an iPad!), think before you click. Hover over links to see if they actually go to the site the email claims to be from. An address will show at the bottom of your screen that may be very different from what shows on the screen. Hackers will send what looks like a legitimate email but actually links to a site that will download malware to your computer or ask for your username and password which is then stolen. If in doubt, don’t click or even open a suspicious email. You can always type the URL into your browser to log in to your account and check if there is a problem. If you are still anxious to get that free iPad, remember – you can’t win a contest you did not enter.
Use caution sharing personal information as well. Have you seen those “fun” Facebook posts where friends are encouraged to get to know each other better by sharing details like your first pet’s name or your high school mascot? Many of these questions are the same ones used to reset your password. If you love these kinds of posts or have filled them out in the past, you can always use nonsense answers to questions and save those in your password manager, too.
Even if you are careful, there is a still a chance of getting hacked. Having a backup of your home or work computer, your website, and other data can make recover from a breach much simpler.