Hacking has been around since the earliest days of computers, but it’s really rocketed into the public consciousness over the last few years. Hackers often target the largest banking and entertainment institutions, exploiting website design to steal money directly or come away with sensitive personal information on millions of customers. The biggest attacks steal the headlines, but hacking also affects many small businesses and individual web users in Calgary and beyond.
Hacking is an unfortunate reality of the digital age, and it’s not going away anytime soon. While the politely titled “information breaches” at large banks show that no institution is completely safe, there’s plenty you can do to protect yourself and your website from hackers. Like any thief, hackers love an easy target. By taking the right protective steps, you can make sure you’re never an easy target for those looking to steal your personal information.
The Primary Types of Hackers
Lumping all hackers into one group is counterproductive when you’re trying to protect your personal information. Some hackers engage in the practice purely for personal gain, while others aim to uncover secrets and share them with the world. Then you have those for whom hacking is a sport and whose actions generally qualify as an inconvenience, rather than grand larceny. All hacking has the potential to be dangerous, but hackers seeking personal gain are the primary concern, here.
- A “white hat” hacker engages in hacking for ethical reasons. Typically, these people are computer security experts who hack their own systems to gain insight on vulnerabilities. White hat hackers are also contracted by outside companies to conduct similar testing.
- “Black hat” hacking encompasses a wide variety of unethical practices, most commonly the theft of personal information. Black hat hackers seek to exploit the same vulnerabilities that white hat hackers aim to protect. The result is all too often serious financial trouble for the individuals and companies affected.
What Hackers Want, and How You Can Stop Them From Getting It
Hackers want your personal information. With it, they can steal your money, or use your identity to steal from others. Though the end goal is the same, hackers employ a wide variety of tactics in trying to separate you from your personal information.
- Phishing scams are especially popular, and they’re becoming more sophisticated. The old “email from an overseas prince” is a popular joke these days, but modern phishing emails will often look exactly like messages sent by your financial institution, or like you’ve won a “legitimate” contest. Remember that no reputable institution will ever ask you to send sensitive account information in this way.
- Malware is a more nefarious, less obvious way of mining personal information. Hackers can place malware on your computer when you click infected websites, download files, or leave a vulnerability in your security system. To combat malware, make sure you have quality anti-virus software and keep all of your programs updated. If your browser or anti-virus software alerts you to a security concern, heed the advice.
- Hacking isn’t all fancy software and elaborate scams. Sometimes, hackers simply look for the low-hanging fruit. Many Web users pick simple passwords, or use one password for every site. The same goes for the security questions designed to verify your identity if you forget your password.
- Hackers are especially skilled at sniffing out passwords and security question answers. Make their job difficult by picking complex passwords, and mixing up your passwords for different sites. When choosing answers for your security questions, it’s often best to provide an answer that has nothing to do with the security question, as long as you can remember it.
In the end, protecting yourself from hackers requires vigilance. Choose difficult passwords, change them often, and never respond to a suspicious request for account information. Remember that personal data you save to your computer can be found by hackers. Keep your anti-virus software up to date, and be wary of websites that may contain malware. With a few simple steps, you can make it much more difficult for hackers to wreak havoc in your financial and personal life.
At Emphasize Design, we know website security, and offer excellent protection against hackers through security plugins, regular updates, and continuous maintenance to combat the latest cyber-crime threats. We also offer learn more about what our web design services can do for you, and how you can get a free website for your Calgary business!