Preventing A Hack Attack
Monday 07 April 2014
These are exciting times as we continue to watch bitcoin grow. The amazing potential that the protocol brings and with the endless possibilities it holds, it still comes with that one minor annoyance: a less than to be desired vulnerability to Hackers. Okay, maybe not so minor if you are talking about large amounts of bitcoin. If you have missed the last few safety articles, be sure to check HERE to see how to protect your modem and router which leads directly this topic. Once you feel your network is safe, and your Wi-Fi name is no longer “mywifi” you are ready to protect your computer.
Steps to protect your computer
The first step to protecting your home computer is to install a firewall. A firewall can be in the form of a software firewall that you install on each of your computers or a stand-alone firewall device, or it might be a feature on your router.
Firewalls are your first line of defense and help prevent hackers from gaining access into your computer.
Having this first defense is paramount as hackers often ping computers until they find the one with no firewall.
Second step is to install antivirus software and keeping it up-to-date. Viruses are a common method that hackers use to give themselves access to an unsuspecting computer. There are many virus and Trojans discovered daily so it’s very important to let your antivirus update on a regular basis.
Another common method of entry into your home computer
is through email programs installed on your desktop.
Consider using an Internet email account as your primary email account instead of using an email program on your computer.
Some email programs will, by default, save email attachments automatically. This would mean that the virus would be put on your computer as soon as you check your email, waiting to be run so it can infect your computer. Many Web-based email services are free and loaded with features, and they keep you one step further away from damaging viruses.
Spotting the phishing emails
We all need to be weary also of the many email scams that are currently flooding your email. No, you did not win an internet lotto drawing. No, you probably don’t have a case full of millions at customs and somebody in Nigeria probably isn’t looking for an heir to claim their money. These maybe easy to spot but other, more sophisticated methods exist.
Email cloaking is when a hacker makes their email look like it came from somebody you might be used to getting emails from like PayPal.
Remember that before you ever click an attachment in the email
that you hover over it first to see where it is going.
Try this link here: http://paypal.com/account. As you can see it looks harmless, it appears to be a link to PayPal. However, if you hover over it or click the link, you will see that it will take you to yahoo.
Hackers will use this kind of link to take you somewhere you don’t expect. On the other end may even be a page that looks like a PayPal login screen but this is only an attempt to get you to enter your personal details. Always look at the address bar. Only one site can have paypal.com. If you see “paypal.accountx.com”, that site belongs to account.com and not PayPal.
Three key steps
The moral of the story is to always be alert and aware while conducting business on the internet and when you start dealing with bitcoin, this becomes very important. Here is an easy to remember three-step process that you can teach the kids and maybe even cut out and place it near your computer as a reminder.
STOP before you download. Are you about to download Microsoft Office for FREE? It may be free because someone has attached another program to it or possibly a piece of malware.
THINK before you click. Reminds us that links are not always what they appear. Hover over the link first, and make sure the location it is taking you to is correct.
MIX letters (upper and lower case), numbers and symbols in all your passwords. As you get to each site, change them now. Remember that hacker programs are becoming very sophisticated and unless you have a hard to guess, 15+ character password, you are leaving yourself open for trouble. For a more detailed look at password safety, click HERE.
Extra safety tips
Keep Your Operating System Up to Date: Computer operating systems are periodically updated to stay in tune with technology requirements and to fix security holes. Be sure to install the updates to ensure your computer has the latest protection.
Turn Off Your Computer: With the growth of high-speed Internet connections, many opt to leave their computers on and ready for action. The downside is that being "always on" renders computers more susceptible. Beyond firewall protection, which is designed to fend off unwanted attacks, turning the computer off effectively severs an attacker's connection.
Run Your Anti-Virus: Some anti-virus programs may only be set to run once a week. You may want to run it quickly before you work on your computer. Some ant-virus programs have a “quick scan” program that will allow you to run a condensed version.
The most important advice that one can get before jumping into bitcoin, is simply to be alert and aware.
The greatest security risk to a computer is its owner.
Downloading malicious programs, clicking attachments in emails or changing settings and opening ports manually in your firewall can cause some huge issues down the road. Once your computer is safe, and you follow the steps above and always stay alert, you can consider yourself ready for bitcoin.
As Always – Be Alert – Be Accurate – Be Aware
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