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Tips for Protecting Against Hackers

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The White House recently released some common sense suggestions that the government should take to minimize the damage done by hackers, so we thought we'd release some information to help keep you safe, too.

Passwords 101

I feel like this is something that is constantly, CONSTANTLY, hammered home to people, but so few follow the advice.

Use a strong password.  Do not use something easy to guess like a birthday, anniversary nickname, pet's name, kid's name.  Make sure to use upper- and lowercase letters and other numbers or symbols.  Try to make it at least eight characters long.  We know this is a hard one, but don't use the same password everywhere, otherwise if a hackers gets one of your passwords, they'll get all of them.

Antivirus and Antispyware Software

Antivirus software scans your computer for viruses, finds them and takes care of them.  The particularly good antivirus software will also prevent you from accessing websites infected with malware by scanning the site before it loads it for you.  It might slow down your web browsing slightly, but slightly slower browsing is a much better alternative to getting infected.

PCMag.com recently did an article ranking the best antivirus software.  Their top suggestions are Bitdefender, Kaspersky and Webroot.

You might not think of it, but antispyware software is similar but separate from antivirus software.  Spyware can be loaded onto a computer to capture all kinds of data from your computer and should be added to your computer as an extra layer of protection.  One of the most popular antispyware programs is Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Update Update Update!

Keep things current.  Whether it's your operating system, programs on your computer, WordPress files or anything else on your computer, if there's an update for it, run the update.  If you have the option of performing automatic updates, go ahead and enable that. 

Why are updates so important?  Very often, updates and patches contain fixes for vulnerabilities that hackers are either already exploiting or ones that other programmers have discovered that could be exploited in the future.  Keeping everything up to date is one of the easiest ways to help keep hackers at bay.

Say "No" to Javascript

Javascript can be used in a lot of online applications, but it's extremely easy to hack and is often used in malware infections people get from online browsing.  For most people, it's best to just disable it entirely.  Chrome and Firefox both have browser add-ons that will allow you to turn it off.

Back it Up

Backing up your files is a good thing to do even if you're not worried about being hacked because computers do crash.  In the case of cyberattacks though, you'll often have to format your computer and reinstall the operating system to get rid of an infection, and if you don't have all your files backed up, they're gone for good.

None of the above tips is guaranteed to keep you free of hacking or viruses, but the more steps you take the make it harder for hackers to attack your computer, the more likely you are to not have to worry about it.