How to Stop a Hacker

Has my series on DEFCON 2015 terrified you with tales of how hackers can infiltrate your life in any number of ways—from your social media accounts to the government to your car? If you’re feeling helpless against hackers, here are some of the best ways to safeguard yourself and your technology.

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #187

Hackers can make you feel powerless. Here are several ways to protect yourself (and your technology) from those who seek to infiltrate it:

Strong and Different Passwords

Let’s start off with the basics: do not use the same password for all of your accounts, and make sure that your passwords are complex. In the past, I’ve talked about using services and programs such as lastpass and keypass in order to manage passwords. What I really like about these programs is that they are free and allow you to only have to remember one password in order to login everywhere. They also have a really nice feature that will generate new and random passwords for you for all of your different websites.

The reason for this is that if a hacker gets one of your passwords, you don’t want to give them the opportunity to be able to log in to all of your online accounts. Random and different passwords makes this much more difficult.

I also recommend setting up some form of two factor authentication. I’ve done a full podcast on two factor authentication, but it basically secures logins with two different types of security, something you know like a password, and something you have like a phone or a key. Typically for my bank accounts and other secure accounts I like to have this extra measure of security. What’s nice is that having two factor authentication set up makes life much harder for hackers because they not only need your password, but they also need the device for the second part of the authentication.

Watch What You Click and What You Install

So far, so good if you have locked down all of your accounts! This will make it impossible for a hacker to randomly guess your password. This is a big step. However, to be even more secure you have to make sure that hackers can’t get software on your computer. If they do, they could easily log everything you type and get all of your secure passwords in no time at all.

The good thing, though, is that this is pretty easy as long as you don’t install pirated software, or click on any links that are emailed to you. Typically hackers will hide malware in pirated software—this way, they don’t even have to try and somehow install software on your computer. You do that yourself by installing the pirated software and any little surprises that the hacker left. The same goes for email links. It is very hard to get software or viruses on a victim’s computer. However, if you can get a victim to click a link in an email, that link might lead them to a webpage that’s running some virus downloading software. So just be sure you are only clicking on links from friends.

Next keep all of your software and operating systems up to date. When vulnerabilities are found in software, manufacturers and programmers like to get patches released ASAP. Frequently updating your software means that you have the most recent patches, and are less vulnerable to getting hacked by an old vulnerability.


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.