Published On: Sun, Oct 6th, 2013

Think You Can’t Get Hacked? Think Again

If you think a passcode that includes your pet’s name and your favorite number is going to be enough to keep thieves from raiding your “secured” online information, consider this: There were 12.6 million people last year who thought the same as you, and they paid dearly for it. Entrepreneur reports the hacks amounted to an overall loss of $21 billion.

Financial businesses such as Arizona Central Credit Union have ramped up their security measures for their clients, using an advanced encryption program. In tandem, they’re teaching clients how to strengthen passcodes by avoiding commonly used words or numbers. Taking precautions can help prevent a hack.

Types of Hacking

There are several ways a person’s online information can become compromised. Some of the more popular ways are:

  • Phishing emails: These types of hackers try to install malicious software onto your mobile device or computer, allowing them to steal personal information. All it takes is for someone to receive a piece of phishing mail and click on a link in that email to set off a virus in their computer. Many phishing emails use scams disguised as warnings that you’ve been hacked, in order to entice the potential victim to click on their links, as Microsoft’s site points out. Others have disguised themselves as popular companies that look legit, when in fact, they are hackers who have designed the email, using another company’s graphics.
  • “Pineappling”: Hackers have been known to hijack people’s wireless connections by using devices such as the WiFi Pineapple Mark IV (Wifipineapple.com). This device has been used by hackers since 2008, tricking wireless connections into thinking it is you getting online, when it’s actually a hacker hijacking the Internet wave. Using a VPN with encryption and not allowing auto-connect can cut down on a hacker’s chance of pirating your wireless connection.
  • Banking Trojans: Banking Trojans are one of the biggest threats to those who use online banking. They are destructive codes specifically designed to hack into a person’s bank account. They have the ability to not only change your password, but possibly make fraudulent transfers and steal your money, as Bankrate reports.

Though banks have taken more steps to secure your financial information, your data is still not hacker-proof, especially if all that your bank requires is a username and password. Thankfully, if your bank account is hacked, the bank is usually accountable for most of the damage, as long as you report it quickly. Clients are also protected by the Electronic Funds Transfer Act. However, a line of credit accounts is, according to Bankrate, covered by what is known as “negligence law,” which questions the client’s responsibility in trying to protect his or her information.

Lessening the Risk of Being Hacked

It isn’t just your online bank account password you should toughen up to lessen your chances of being hacked.

Think about your personal information on social media pages such as Facebook, where a hacker can use that info to figure out your passwords. Be sure you’re not leaving too many trail crumbs for hackers to figure out your security passcodes.

Other tips include:

  • Use strong and unique passcodes. Stay away from obvious words and numbers, such as your birthday, address or social security numbers. There are passcode-managing programs that can keep all of your passcodes stored and in order so you don’t forget them. These programs even have options that can create strong passcodes for you, according to NPR.
  • Entrepreneur points out that simply disabling your Windows AutoRun can stop 50 percent of malware threats.
  • Avoid sharing personal information unless you are using a secure connection (HTTPs in the URL). Lastly, always log out of each online account.

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