Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Steps to Protect Yourself from Online Hackers

Last week I shared What to do if You’ve been Hacked. This week I want to give you some tips to help prevent it from happening. Unfortunately, nothing is foolproof. Inevitably, the more wise we become at protecting ourselves, the more cunning those wishing us harm become. 
The majority of times we get hacked it’s because we clicked a link that uploaded a virus which opened us up to hackers. 
This is the bad news, but there’s also good news. This kind of hacking is preventable, and here are some steps to take to stay safe online.

  • Be wise. This seems basic, but so many times we just ignore our better judgement. How many of us have been sucked in by direct messages like these? “Have you heard the rumors your fiend is spreading about you?” or “This is a hilarious video just uploaded about you.” Stop. Think. Then DON’T click that link!
  • Assume it’s a lie. About six months ago I got an email from an online company confirming a large purchase with my credit card. I knew I hadn’t made any purchases, but still had to fight the urge to panic. I took a step back and looked more closely at the email. I noticed several things that made me suspicious. I immediately did an online search for scams involving that company and came up with pages of recent victims. I contacted the company directly (not through the info in their email) and confirmed the email was a ruse.
  • Never give out sensitive information. Let me repeat, NEVER GIVE OUT SENSITIVE INFORMATION! Companies don’t ask for bank account info, passwords or other information over the internet. First, if you’re a customer, they already have all of your information they need. Keeping up with personal passwords is a liability for companies. 
Now, a quick word about passwords. I know you don’t want to hear it, but your password should be different for every account you have. If you’re like me you probably have dozens of accounts, so how can you keep up with all those passwords? Trust me, it’s not with sticky notes or a file on your computer. 
Instead, take advantage of some wonderful programs. Some charge a small fee, others are free—all have the highest security rating available. 
Keepass X (for Mac) and Keepass (for PC)
There are also blank booklets available for those of you who are old school and want something you can hold in your hand. I’ve seen them at local discount stores, as well as high end specialty stores.
Now it’s your turn, what are some tricks you use to stay safe online? Be sure to check back on Thursday when I’ll debunk some of the online safety myths we all have fallen for.
Don’t forget to join the conversation!


  1. What about keeping a list of passwords in Dropbox?

  2. Great advice, Edie. I've been lazy with passwords but that's changing now.

  3. I didn't know about Keepass X. Thanks for the tip. I'll be sure to check it out. Sage advice, friend!

  4. Great tips, Edie. I'm lazy bout passwords, too, but I know it's what I have to do.

  5. Edie,

    A couple years ago one of my e-mail account address books was 'hacked' or compromised. It was a Yahoo account. What happened was I would receive e-mail from someone in my address book, yet when I opened it, it was not from that person, but from a Pharmaceutical company in Canada, advertising their products.
    I closed out that address book, and no longer use that account.
    Now, just this past few weeks, two of my grandsons have been 'hacked' and I can see that the advertising is being sent to everyone in their address books.(this is a different company....a 'work from home' ad)
    WHAT can be done to stop this 'stealing' of one's address book in their e-mail account?
    Have you had anyone else with this problem?
    I have heard that it may come from Facebook aps. Do you know if that is true? I have closed my Facebook account, also.
    Thank you so much for your help. Thank you for your wonderful and informative blog!

  6. Steph, drop box works really well for keeping track of passwords.
    Cathy, Lisa and Vonda, thanks for dropping by. I'm the same way. I hate to get rid of my regular passwords, too.
    Lily Sue, Yahoo has a bad reputation for poor security and their site is regularly hacked. The MOST important thing is to keep your protection software on your computer up to date. Next week I'll include some of the best software and many will be surprised to learn the best is free.
    Blessings All, E

  7. Thanks for the tips, Edie. I have to get busy with KeePass. I got lax when I switched to a Mac, but it's time to get serious again.

    I filter a lot of email and have tight spam controls. A tip I give my friends is to be careful when they're using wifi at places like at Starbucks. It's ok to surf, but don't shop or bank.

    Have a great week!

  8. Ooo, I like the password keeper options. Because yes, I have soooo many accounts, and it's hard to keep track of them all. Thanks for another informative post, Edie!

  9. Wise advice, Edie. I keep a copy of my passwords written in a code that I can easily decipher but no one else would understand...just in case I lose the book! Of course, if I lose the book, the finder won't be able to access my accts, but neither will I! *lol*

  10. Good advice & tips! I have a problem changing password as I see many others too ! Like to keep mine the old school because hubby & I share many acct & he set it up!
    He is analytical & loves making graphs and organizing our bill paying on line & much more. He is a mathematic whiz as well ;))
    I've been hacked twice, one w/ ATT, the other with AT&T!
    Dropped them & haven't had any more problems:))

  11. I found a cute address book really cheap that I put all of our account numbers, user ID and passwords in alphabetically. Then I found a mini one that I keep with my laptop, but write the codes backwards, and user for pass and pass for user without cues. Since I'm the only using that one, I don't have to worry if hubby remembers they are in "code"!

  12. Thanks so much, Edie! Your info is always so helpful! Guess I need to get to work on passwords. :)

    Know that I'm praying for you all as you go to Blue Ridge!!

    Love and hugs!

  13. Thanks Edie. My husband and I are currently looking for a password vault (we miss the one on our Blackberries), and this information is very helpful. We use McAfee, stay away from suspicious sites, and always delete messages with dubious links. I've just started using Dropbox - what a great idea!