We hear an awful lot about hackers breaking into systems and taking down networks or stealing millions of data records. The general understanding we have for hacking is bad guys want to disrupt things to make a point or to make money. But how do they really use our personal information against us?
Whether you realize it or not, you expose a lot of your personal information online and even through the technologies you use. From information posted to social networking sites to data sent over unsecured wireless networks, you reveal bits of information that hackers can piece together to either scam or impersonate you.
This information is currency to hackers because it allows them to get what they want—your money. Or worse, a criminal can take your information and make you look really bad and completely tarnish your good name.
With your Social security number they can open various lines of credit under your name and never pay the bills, thus damaging your credit rating and creating a lot of work to for you to clear your name.
If they hack in to your devices and get your usernames and passwords then they can wreak some serious havoc. Banks accounts can be emptied, social media and email accounts can be used to scam your friends or disparage you or your loved ones, and if they access your medical accounts or history, you could be denied services when you need them most.
What all this means is you have to protect your devices and protect your personal information to avoid this from happening. To help protect yourself you should:
Use a firewall – Firewalls filter information from the Internet to your network or computer, providing an important first line of defense. If you have a home wireless network, make sure that the firewall on your router is enabled, and use a software firewall to protect your computer.
Use comprehensive computer security – Because there are a variety of ways in which hackers can access your information, you need to make sure that you employ a comprehensive security solution like McAfee® All Access to safeguard all of your devices.
Educate yourself – Keep up to date about the latest scams and tricks cybercriminals use to grab your information so you can avoid potential attacks.
Use common sense – Follow the old caveats about not clicking on links in emails and instant messages from people you don’t know, and always exercise caution when it comes to sharing any sensitive information.
Robert Siciliano is an Online Security Expert to McAfee. He is the author of 99 Things You Wish You Knew Before Your Mobile was Hacked! (Disclosures)