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After a Cyber Break-In: Steps to Take

You Have Been Hacked!

Cold sweat. Adrenaline. Crisis mode! This is what it feels like when you realize you’ve been hacked online. Your information and your expensive equipment are no longer your own. You feel violated, like you have been robbed even though no physical property has been taken. Can you ever feel safe online again? But wait! There’s hope in sight. You’ve installed a primo antivirus package, and it has cleared the gunk off your system without damaging your precious data. Wow, you are glad you bought that subscription to an antivirus program last month. This article, After a Cyber Break-in Steps to Take will provide excellent suggestions on what to do next.

Step up Your Security

The temptation will be to keep the same security level and get back to work. But have you done everything you can to prevent future security breaches (and headaches)? Installing antivirus software is an excellent start – but what did the intruder get away with? Here are some steps to ensure the hacker can’t use any compromised information to continue to make your life hard.

Change Your Passwords

If a virus or other malware bypassed your security, there is a chance that it took the opportunity to record usernames and passwords that may have been stored in your browser cache or in private documents. Even if you got off easy, passwords are like smoke detector batteries: to do their job, they need to be changed at regular intervals. It can be annoying, always having to try to remember what password goes to which site and then, as soon as you have it down, its time to shake it up again but it is the easiest way to protect your personal information online.

Use Multiple Passwords

Please don’t make the mistake of using one password for all your accounts. There is just too much on the line. Consider thinking up clever acronyms for each account. For example, your email account password could be IL2UGitS!, an acronym for “I Love to Use Gmail in the Springtime!” (which would also remind you to change the password every season or two). Please come up with something original or every hacker that reads this article will be able to get into your account, which is exactly what we are trying to avoid!

Password Protect Documents with Passwords

If you can’t resist writing down your scores of lesser-used passwords, create a word-processing document with this information – but make sure you password-protect the password document. Otherwise, next time someone hacks in, you’ll be in this mess all over again. Since now you’ll only have one password to remember, you shouldn’t have to write it down anywhere. To encrypt a file in Microsoft Word 2010 for Windows, click on File > Info > Protect Document > Encrypt With Password. Other word-processing programs have similar procedures. If yours doesn’t allow you to password-protect a document, refrain from using this method. Better yet, you can have a notebook next to your computer where you can physically writes down the site name and your password. No one can hack anything that is not on your computer. Now if you are burglarized on the other hand, you may be in trouble.

Don’t Copy & Paste User Names & Passwords

For maximum security, don’t cut and paste usernames and passwords into their respective blanks when logging into an account. Some malware can capture the contents of your clipboard, where the computer stores cut and copied text.

Clear Your Cache Regularly

The less information lying dormant on your computer, the less a thief will have at his fingertips if he does gain access. Set your browser cache to delete data every few weeks, rather than relying on your memory to do it manually. This will make some webpages load slightly slower, but it’s worth the trade-off in security.

Set Regular Restore Points

Your new antivirus software may do this for you. Find out. If it doesn’t, make sure you use the built-in restore functions of your operating system to make periodic restore points so that you can roll back your computer settings and structure to an undamaged configuration if something goes awry. This is a good idea anyway, since even installing software or drivers can occasionally cause problems, even when no malicious programs are present.

Set Email to Plain Text

Email looks a lot fancier with HTML. Embedded photos and live links are nice but it’s a common way for hackers to compromise your system’s security. Images and links sent by strangers could contain ways to exploit security loopholes in your email program or operating system. Block images from unknown senders, and opt to manually load images when they are from a trusted source.

Conclusion

With a few precautions, you can make your latest security breach your last one and you can breath easier knowing your personal information is safe. Thank you for reading our article.

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