In this day and age home users are under attack from hackers on a daily basis. Phishing schemes, password attacks, social media account cloning, home Wifi attacks. These are just some of the many reasons you need to follow some simple steps to secure your data.
My name is Ronald F Garrison and I am the founder of Bad Dog IT Consulting and Bad Dog Web Hosting & Design. I have been working in the IT field for over 30 years with a focus on CyberSecurity. I currently hold over 20 certifications in Technology including Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Avast Certified Technical Professional, Symantec Certified Specialist.
I am writing this article to assist you in making it more difficult for a hacker to gain access to your data.
For more free advice see this webpage: https://www.baddogit.net/free-advice-home-users/
Anything and anyone can be hacked
If the hackers want you and you do not take some of these basic tips you can become a victim.
Home network WiFi Key
Encryption of the WiFi connection at home is now standard and comes predelivered on most routers. The problem is most of these use a preset key that uses just a few digits, these can be easily hacked and cracked within minutes. Always change your WiFi key that consists of a combination of digits, upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. An example would be something like H0b@rtR3pub!can5; you see the letter o is replaced with a zero 0 the letter a replaced by @ an I replaced with exclamation point ! and s replaced by the number 5.
Most of your home routers/modems/gateways have a firewall built in that you can enable. Example Xfinity routers have basic security enabled, then you can turn up the security to create a better level of protection.
Under no circumstances should you ever use a free Public WiFi that does not require a passcode. Meaning if it is an unsecured WiFi. The difference is if you go somewhere and they have the password posted or give you a password, then that traffic to and from your computer is encrypted. On unsecured WiFi a hacker can sit in that location with a sniffer and see your traffic including passwords and such.
Nowadays we all have these things in our homes that are “smart” meaning they are connected to the internet; these are referred to as Internet of Things (IoT). Most are protected with default usernames and passwords that can be found on the internet or DarkWeb (the hackers’ internet). Always change the passwords of all these types of devices and try to never use the default usernames like admin or administrator. The same rule applies here as to your Wifi key use long passwords and are not easily guessed.
Never reuse passwords, meaning do not use the same password for multiple things. If a hacker compromises one of your passwords, then they can gain access to the rest of the things. Also change your passwords often; at the very least twice per year. I recommend Bi-monthly for the best results.
- Your Birthday
- Your Anniversary
- Your kid’s Names
- Your spouse’s name
There is a free tool that you can download that I highly recommend; to remember all your passwords. It runs on your computer, phone or tablet and it uses one difficult password to remember all your other passwords for you. The nice thing is for a small yearly fee you can upgrade the basic version that will then sync your passwords on all of your devices, so you always have your passwords available.
The program is called Dashlane: https://www.dashlane.com No I am not a reseller and make no money on it. I do however use it and recommend it.
Always install an Antivirus on your machine, I personally recommend Avast https://www.avast.com, they have a free version which will protect you, they also have a paid version I am a reseller if you so choose a paid version. No matter what you choose always keep your antivirus up-to-date and always let it scan your computer weekly.
All manufacturers release security updates, these can include bios, firmware and driver updates. They also can be operating system updates i.e. Windows Updates; I can not stress enough the importance of installing all of these.
Your phone rings, the person says:
- your computer is compromised
- your social security number is locked
- your relative has been arrested and you need to wire money
- we are trying to reach you about your car warranty
All these types of calls or any call that asks you for personal information can be potential phishing schemes. Never give out personal information to someone calling you. The I.R.S. is never going to call you asking you about your social security number, for that fact you should never give your social security number out on the phone or internet.
Will these steps prevent you from being hacked; possibly at the very least it will make it much more difficult for the common hacker to get you. As fast as security exploits are patched and prevented; the hackers are looking for new ways. There is never a guarantee; businesses have entire departments that protect them 24 hours a day and many are still hacked daily. However, for you the home user, there are not groups of hackers trying to get to just you on a daily basis.
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