How To Not Get Hacked! (And What to Do if You Do)

By: Amanda Reichert


You’ve probably heard many times, “Use a different password for every account, don’t reuse your passwords, and you won’t get hacked!” Sure, that’s good advice, but there is more to preventing getting hacked than passwords.


The number one way to prevent getting hacked is to take the following advice: “UPDATE”.


  • Update: When a new software or update comes out for your device, upgrade. Many times, the updates are chalked full of security changes and firewall updates.


  • Passwords: Keep track of them, don’t reuse them, and don’t use them for more than one account. If one account gets hacked, your other accounts may be soon to follow.


  • Download from authorized sources: Make sure you download from trusted sites. I will admit I have downloaded a massive “Trojan Horse” by downloading “iTunes” from a site other than Apple. Don’t make my mistake.


  • Administrator should not be your default account: You only really need to log into the admin to certain things. If your admin account gets hacked, the hacker can easily change anything in your computer.


  • Turn off your computer when you are done with it: Log out of your accounts when done with them, disconnect the wifi if you really don’t need it, and switch off the computer when you are done with it. Not only will this help your computer run faster and save battery life, it will stop any attacks made while you are not around.


  • Encryption: Make use of it. Encryption scrambles your information so it is harder to hack. To check if a website uses encryption, look for the s in the URL (https: vs http:)


There are of course many other ways to prevent getting hacked. Here are a few tips I recommend:


  • Buy anti-virus and firewall software. BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU DOWNLOAD. If it’s free online, it’s probably not safe. Check with an expert whether a certain software is safe or not before downloading.


  • Back up your data with a USB stick or a hard-drive device.


  • Be careful with your personal information, and don’t give it out to just anyone.


  • Keep an eye out for “phishing” scams in emails or messages.


  • Use unusual passwords, don’t make it obvious (like password123), but make sure to remember them.


  • Try to change your passwords around every so often.


  • Check to see if your accounts have been logged into recently without your knowledge and where. You may be able to catch a random log in for thousands of miles away.


  • Pay attention to what apps request permission to.


  • Install “Find My iPhone” or “Find My Droid”, just in case you lose your phone.


  • Use only well know wifi networks, and make sure to be cautious of what you do while on public wifi.


Now for the important part: What do you need to do if you get hacked.


  • Depending on what got hacked, you may need to contact your bank or friends and family associated with that account.


  • Change ALL of your passwords, especially if you share passwords with multiple accounts.


  • Isolate your computer. Shut off the wifi and boot in safe-mode if you can.


  • Take it to an expert. Bring it into WITS as a good first option. Best Buy has an amazing Geek Squad that is willing to give advice and can fix it for a fee.


Getting hacked can be frightening and sometimes cause serious damages. Be careful. Scammers and hackers are always looking for an easy way to get information from people. Just be safe, and be smart while navigating the internet.