By: Gary Peck, Regional Director
Your computer was most likely compromised in one of four ways:
1. You do not have up-to-date security software installed
2. Your passwords are weak and easily hacked
3. You click on a malicious link in an email, IM conversation, or on a social networking site or webpage
4. You download a video, game, song or attachment
Steps to follow:
1. Check your computer security
Most hackers collect passwords using malware that has been installed on your computer. No matter which operating system you use, be sure your anti-virus and anti-malware programs are up to date. Choose the setting that will automatically update your computer when new security fixes are available. Look to see that all operating system updates are also installed. Set your computer to update automatically so that you get protection from new attacks as soon as possible.
2. Change your password and make it stronger
Do this after your anti-virus and anti-malware programs are updated or the hackers may collect your new password as well.
· Strong passwords do not have to be hard to remember, they just have to be hard to guess.
· Make you password at least 10 characters long, and use capital letters, lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
· Do not use information about yourself or someone close to you (including your dog or cat) like name, age, city.
· Do not use words that can be found in a dictionary, these are easy for hackers to break, even if you spell them backwards.
· Text messaging shortcuts can help make strong memorable password creation easier. For example L8rl8rNot2Day! Translates to later, later, not today.
3. Send an email to your contacts saying you were hacked
When an email comes from someone you know you are more likely to open it and click on links within – even of the subject is weird. Help stop the spread of the malware by warning those in your contact list to be cautious of any email sent by you that doesn’t seem right, and not to click on the links.
4. Smarten up your Spam phishing, and scams
Spam comes at us from all angles, in the mailbox in front of your home, in your email inbox, via IM, social networking sites, chats, forums, websites and on your phone.
5. No reputable financial institution or company is ever going to ask you to “authenticate” information online
And if you get an email with a link to one of these sites, don’t use it. Instead, use your search engine to find the site yourself, and then log in. If the message is legitimate, the message will be waiting for you in your account.
6. Validate the legitimacy of any program/game/app/video/song before downloading it
According to a study released in June 2011 by Microsoft, 1 out of every 14 programs downloaded by users is later to be malware or having malware attached to it. If content is pirated, free, or comes to you anonymously, assume it has malware. Only download content that you have read good reviews about from sites you can trust.