7 Kick-Butt Strategies to Beat Hackers at Their Own Game

It may come as a surprise – but Internet security isn’t enough to save you from cyber criminals. They’re active 24/7 say security experts Symantec. And 2016 proved to be their most innovative year, yet, they tell us.

It’s a fact. Cyber crime has risen steadily since 2014.  Regardless of that, you may think you have no cause to worry.  If so, here are some statistics about individual hacking, and cyber-attacks perpetrated, which may shock you out of your socks:

  • In 2015 there were 1 million cyber attacks, per day,  instigated against individuals. 38% more incidents than in 2014 – 365 million annually.
  • In 2016 there were 1,475,000 individual incidents per day – 538 million annually.
  • In 2017, the first 6 months have produced 2 million incidents of cyber attacks against individuals per day.  Extrapolated to one year that equals 730 million.

The current U.S. population is 327 million. With 2 million individual cyber-attacks, per day, by year end that’s  approximately 2 attacks per person, per day in the U.S.  In short, the reality is everyone is at risk of becoming the victim of a cyber-attack, or hacking; regardless how little or how much they access the Internet.

What are these cyber-attackers searching for?  

Their #1 priority is your email password.

Once they decide on your email address, they start working at hacking your password. That done, they likely have the keys to the kingdom – able to access both your personal and financial accounts.

That said, consider all the things you may do online which are related to financial or personal information and other accounts and how many times you’re logging in to retrieve or review that information daily or per week.

Here are 10 examples:

* Check your bank balance; transfer money.
* Make a mortgage payment.
* Pay on or review a loan balance.
* Make a credit card payment or simply check your account.
* You may access your investment accounts; check their status.
* Order from Amazon or elsewhere online.
* Access county or state records for personal or business info.
* Check info about your child on the school site.
* Access business financial accounts, biz credit card or line of credit.
* Apply for a mortgage or loan online. 

Why is it so easy for cyber-hackers to steal your information? 

Since most people inappropriately use their email password for many – if not all – of their personal and financial accounts, hackers then have easy access to a variety of your accounts – if not all.  Not to mention they now have the ability to appropriate your financial and personal information and sell it,  rob you of cash, pilfer and use your credit. Plus send phishing scam emails from your email account. And that’s just to start.

‘Cookies’ – another method hackers can use to hack your accounts?

What you also may not realize is the majority of the companies you access online use ‘cookies’. A cookie is a file created by a web browser like Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge at the request of a website you are visiting. One reason cookies are used is it saves things like items you placed in your shopping cart.  If you should leave without purchasing what you added to your shopping cart, the cookies keep the info in your computer’s memory. When you log in again, you are prompted to order those items; in short to complete the order.

Cookies also are set up to save personal information such as your address, phone and credit card numbers to make it easier to access the site and your favorite info when you visit again. 

Much of the information you use on these sites – like credit card payments, address, phone number and passwords – get saved in your internet history, cache and cookies. And can remain, for years, on your computer without you ever knowing. And easily accessible to a hacker who commandeers your computer.

                        Password hackers are called ‘password crackers’

When it comes to cracking passwords, most hackers – called ‘password crackers’ – use a bot or software which can quickly cycle through millions of combinations – in minutes – and run them against your account.  However there are ways you can beat them back.  Which is a must –  in todays hacker-infested world. 

Here’s 7  Kick-Butt Ways to Beat Hackers at Their Own Game:

1. Don’t use favorite or common words as passwords.  Or, if you must, alternate them with numbers and symbols; and alternate between capital letters and lower case. For example – the word Seattle becomes (S74e*9a(t&t3L7E. In short, your combo of symbols, upper and lower case letters, plus numbers, makes it far harder for password crackers to break it.

2. Change your password every 60-90 days.   If you use Microsoft Outlook you can sign up for password alerts. These alerts remind you when it’s time to change your email password. You choose the number of days before changing it. This keeps your password fresh and the hackers scrambling to discover it. Eventually moving on if it takes too much time to break it. 

3. Don’t use a master password.  Unless you want to openly tempt a hacker, this is an absolute no-no. Using the same password for all your accounts makes hacking your personal and/or financial accounts a slam-dunk for an experienced hacker or cyber-criminal. Instead, use a unique and different password, and user log in, for each account. Refer to #1 above.

4. Delete your computer’s browser history and cookies.  As mentioned above, most companies, today, add cookies to your computer when you access their site.  More info:  https://goo.gl/519rMs

5. Don’t sign up and allow a site to remember your password or user name. Most sites prompt you with a statement like ‘Do you want us to remember your password?’  Always click ‘no’.

Most web browsers encourage you to ‘make it easy on yourself’ by doing this. While this feature can be useful, it also can be negative. In that it can put your personal and financial information at risk.  Especially if this is a site which holds a variety of other individual’s personal and/or financial information. For example a credit card site. These are sites hackers love to break into. Don’t give them the opportunity to hack your info. More info:  https://goo.gl/XZTEp5  

6. Get the facts. Has your email been hacked? Find out by checking the following site. This particular site includes info leaked by cyber-hackers. It has emails from such sites as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and many, many more. If you discover your email on this list, change it immediately. Check out the site www.haveibeenponed.com

7.  Create a password with the maximum allowed characters.  If a site allows you a max of 12 to 16 characters, use them all. The longer the password the more difficult it is to hack.  And the safer you are.

Financial institutions, banks, security firms and the U.S. government are working non-stop, daily, to shut these criminals down. However the hacker’s ability to get creative with attacks and the number of new hackers joining the hacking community, daily, allow for the multiplication of the number of attacks per day. Meaning each Internet using individual must begin fending for themselves.

Authors:  J.L.Serio and the Staff at Cyber Fraud Protect


Cyber Improvement Free Report

Creating a strong password has become a necessity and absolutely essential for everyone who uses the Internet.  Take, for example, your email password. When it’s easy to crack – whether it’s your personal or business email or an email for Facebook – you’re exposing to hackers every individual you’ve ever interacted with says Tim Herrera editor of the Smarter Living Newsletter for the New York Times.

Don’t wait another day to find out how much of your private information is vulnerable to phishing attacks. Start today taking control of your own email and account security.  “Forewarned is forearmed”.

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