Every six seconds a personal computer is hacked into. Often times hacking victims don’t find out until it’s too late—leaving them vulnerable to identity theft, email intrusion, cyber stalking and a collection of other virtual crimes. And although the United States has penalties for cyber crimes, only one out of every 10,000 crimes that gets reported leads to an arrest or conviction.
BlackEnterprise.com wanted to know first-hand what it takes to keep your PC safe, so we went straight to the source—well-known computer security expert, Gregory D. Evans. We talked with the convicted-hacker-turned-founder of LIGATT Security International, one of the nation’s leading high-tech security companies, and Spoofem.com about key ways to curb cyber intrusion.
Think like a hacker. Evans suggests using AmIHackerProof.com. “This is like the ADT for your network,” he remarks. It will perform an in-depth scan like a hacker would for free, letting you know where your computer is vulnerable. However, if you are a subscriber it will scan your PC automatically five times a week and send you a detailed report afterwards.
Invest in encryption software. “You want to make sure the data on the computer is protected,” says the tech guru. The software takes data and encodes it so that no one can read it without first submitting the decryption key. Evans suggests full disk encryption,which encrypts each byte of data stored on the hard disk, but there are several types to choose from.
Don’t use the same username and password for all of your accounts. Many websites compile a list of their users’ email addresses and passwords. Those hacking into a site’s system will then try the password submitted on the email address attached to the account. If you use the same password for several email addresses, the hacker—who now has access to one email account—can easily log in to your other mailboxes.
“We found that sixty percent of the people who have had their Facebook, Twitter pages and all these other systems hacked all use the exact same email address and password,” says Evans.
Limit sending mass emails, especially chain letters. The moment you send an email with all of your contacts, you have let the recipients know who is in your network. In the case of chain letters, often times you don’t know who started the letter so when you send it to numerous contacts, including the originator of the email, and they in turn forward it to all of their contacts you’re giving up numerous email addresses. The hacker can send out a spoof email, which makes an email appear like it’s from you or one of your contacts. It’s an easy way a hacker can install spyware on your computer.
There’s no such thing as too much protection. Although your computer comes with antivirus software, don’t feel limited. You can run more than one at the same time. Also, if you use a router make sure that its internal firewall is turned on. Same goes for the firewall on your computer. “There’s not one particular software program that can protect you from everything,” says Evans. By using different methods, you’ll have multiple layers of protection, he adds.
Shut your computer off in the evening. “If your computer’s off, no one can hack into it,” reminds Evans.