When you bring to mind someone “hacking” a computer one of the images that likely comes up is a screen of complex code designed to crack through your security technology. Whereas there is a technological element to every security incident, the issue usually starts with a simple mistake made by one person. Hackers understand that it is far easier to trick a person into providing a password, executing malicious software, or entering information into a fake website, than cracking an encrypted network — and hackers prey on the fact that you think “nobody is targeting me.”
Below are some guidelines to help keep you and your technology safe on the network.
General Best Practices
Let’s start with some general guidelines on things you should never do with regards to your computer or your online accounts.
First, never share your personal information with any individual or website unless you are certain you know with whom you are dealing. Hackers often will call their target (you) pretending to be a service desk technician or someone you would trust. The hacker than asks you to provide personal information such as passwords, login ids, computer names, etc.; which all can be used to compromise your accounts. The best thing to do in this case, unless you are expecting someone from your IT department to call you, is to politely end the conversation and call the service desk back on a number provided to you by your company. Note, this type of attack also applies to websites. Technology exists for hackers to quickly set up “spoofed” websites, or websites designed to look and act the same as legitimate sites with which you are familiar. In effect this is the same approach as pretending to be a legitimate IT employee; however, here the hacker entices you to enter information (username and password) into a bogus site in an attempt to steal the information. Be wary of links to sites that are sent to you through untrusted sources or email. If you encounter a site that doesn’t quite look right or isn’t responding the way you expect it to, don’t use the site. Try to access the site through a familiar link.
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