Hacking isn’t just about weak passwords and single-factor authentication. A lot of it occurs because people can be so easily tricked into giving up personal information: the craft of social engineering. Example: “Download this video of Kim K fully naked!” How many men would be lured into clicking this gateway to a viral infection? We are a sad species.
The victim isn’t always a goofball like this. They can be a tech support agent tricked into resetting a password and handing it over. Often, the victims don’t even know they were targeted until well after the fact, if ever.
- Just say no—to giving out personal information. Social engineering can occur over the phone: someone pretending to be your bank, asking for your private information. Always contact any institution for verification they want your private data before blindly giving it out.
- Be scrupulous with security questions. Don’t answer ones that a hacker can easily get the answer to, such as “City you were born.” Choose the most obscure questions from the list. If all seem rather basic, though, then give answers that make no sense, such as “Planet Neptune” for the city you were born in. If you fear being unable to remember these answers, put the answers in an encrypted file or password manager.
- Do you get e-mails about password resets? Be careful. Contact the service provider to see if the e-mail is legitimate.
- You’ve probably heard this before, but here it is again: Never use the same password for multiple accounts! In the same vein, don’t use the same security questions, even though the list of security questions from one service provider to the next is usually the same list of questions. Do your best to use as much of a variety of questions as possible, and don’t forget, you can always give crazy answers to the same question for different accounts.
- Keep an eye on your accounts and their activity. Account providers such as Gmail have dashboards that show where you’re logged in and what tools or apps are connected. This includes financial and social media accounts.
- Beware of emails coming from anyone, for any reason that require you to click links for any reason. Social engineering via email is one of the true successful ways to con someone. Just be ridiculously aware.