Do you have a Yahoo account? Hacked. Do you contribute on Patreon? Hacked. Store your passwords on LastPass? Hacked. Myspace? LinkedIn? Snapchat? eBay? Dropbox? All hacked.
When we say ‘hacked,’ we’re talking about private details being stolen from these sites and sold, or openly uploaded online. Names. Email addresses. Real addresses. Passwords. Photos. Videos. Phone numbers. Security questions. Dates of birth.
And these are just the companies that (we know) have been hacked. We haven’t gone into all the nasty ways that you, personally, could be hacked as well. So, should you be freaking out right now? Yes, yes, this would be a good time to do that. But beyond being worried, you can also prepare yourself.
While nobody can be completely hack-proof, everyone can be less hackable. You can improve your chances by understanding how you can be attacked, and by practicing some digital self-defense. Here are the six big ways you can be hacked, and what to do about it.
Security company Kaspersky surveyed over 11,000 people from all over the world and discovered that 82% readily connect to unprotected public Wi-Fi networks at airports, hotels, and cafes.
What’s more alarming, however, is that a further survey by Symantec of people who connect to public Wi-Fi found that a whopping 60% actually believe that their information is safe when using public Wi-Fi.
Public Wi-Fi is normally unencrypted, in other words, it’s visible to anyone in range. Using specialized software, hackers can snoop on traffic in the network and monitor other users’ activities on the network, and even steal account information.
And if you don’t have secure file-sharing settings, you may also be inadvertently sharing your files with other users on the network. Or worse, hackers could also access folders in your device and plant infected software and files without your knowledge.
Finally, there’s the risk of malicious hotspots. Sophisticated hackers can create innocuous-looking free Wi-Fi networks to trick users into connecting. And when they do, these hackers will then perform man-in-the-middle type attacks to intercept and steal your data.
1. Use a VPN
One of the most basic ways of protecting your when using an unprotected Wi-Fi network is to use a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN acts as a middleman between you and the rest of the Internet and encrypts all of your data. A hacker would be able to see that you are connected to a VPN, but not your activities on it.
2. Don’t log in on public Wi-Fi
Don’t use any online service that requires your login information, this includes your online banking account and social media accounts. In addition, do not access or share sensitive data when connected through public Wi-Fi. Save these activities for the times when you are sure that your connection is secure.