Everyone worries about having his or her computer infected, identity stolen or online account hacked. The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to greatly reduce the chances of these bad things happening to you. Read on to discover simple ways to avoid being hacked.
This is the single most important tip here. Far too many hacks occur because someone hasn't updated Windows or Internet Explorer. Make sure Windows, macOS and iOS are always up-to-date with the latest patches, and that any applications that face the internet, such as web browsers and email clients, are also updated.
If a product is no longer supported, such as Windows XP or Internet Explorer versions 6 through 10, then upgrade to a newer version. If your device is too old to receive the latest updates, it's time for a new device. (Caveat: Many Android users can't update to the latest version of Android, because their device makers or wireless carriers won't let them.)
Your smartphone logs right into your email and social-media accounts, your home Wi-Fi network, and possibly even your online bank account. It's got the names, numbers and email addresses of all your friends and family. You don't want some random person who picks up your phone to get all that information, do you? Lock your phone's screen — a six-digit PIN is better than a four-digit PIN, and an alphanumeric password is better than either.
There's no quicker way to get your Android device infected than by installing apps from outside the official Google Play app store. Apps available in "off-road" markets are frequently pirated and/or infected. Do yourself a favor: Go into Settings, look for Security and make sure Unknown Sources is toggled off.
It's very rare for an iPhone to be infected with malware, because Apple's closed ecosystem is a fortress. So don't tear down the walls by jailbreaking your iPhone to run unauthorized apps. Otherwise, you'll be opening yourself up to the world of hurt that Android users face every day.
You already know that Windows machines need antivirus software, but did you know that Mac, Android devices and Linux boxes do too? Antivirus software may (or may not) slow down your machine a bit, but it will give you a strong line of defense against malware, phishing schemes and other threats from the internet or from USB devices. (We would recommend AV software for iOS devices as well, but Apple doesn't permit it.)
We love Android, but it isn't for everyone. Most Android users don't know, for example, that they — not Google, phone makers or cellular carriers — are responsible for keeping Android devices up-to-date and malware-free. They also don't know that Google doesn't do the greatest job in keeping infected apps out of the Google Play Store.
If you don't feel up to policing your own device and learning some technical details, then get an iPhone. Apple takes full ownership of iPhone security, and you won't have to worry. (Just don't jailbreak the iPhone.)
Two-factor authentication (2FA) will prevent an online account from being hijacked, even if a hacker knows your password. Without a PIN sent to your smartphone, he or she won't be able to get in. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Dropbox and dozens of other services allow 2FA — enable it now. Here's an updated guide on how to turn on 2FA.