Jon Caplan, a Past-President of our Rotary Club, described categories of Internet hacking: Obtaining your bank account access, placing Ransomware (crippling your data access and extorting payment from you to get it back), and Botnets (placing hidden Internet-connected malware on your computer to remotely steal your data, send spam, or perform Distributed Denial-Of-Service (DDoS) attacks, using thousands of captured malware-infected computers to flood and overload the resources of an Internet target). (It’s a nasty world out there!) These attacks are becoming more sophisticated every year. Jon recommends the following steps to protect yourself:
  1. Backup your data, and don’t let it live at home where it may still be vulnerable to loss or damage; automate it with “Carbonite”, “iDrive”, etc (“Cloud” backup software to protect your personal & business data from common forms of data loss), and just do it frequently, even with a USB device.
  1. Manage your passwords. Don’t reuse previous passwords. Use a password manager (such as “LastPass”), and consider using 2-Factor Authentication for increased security (for example, the system you are accessing triggers an automated call to your cell phone to verify that it’s really you).
  1. Don’t trust email: Check the actual sender and don’t click on Internet hotlinks from emails.
  1. Update your software. Don’t neglect software update notices from your software providers, who try to keep up with new hacking threats.
  1. Reduce your risk: Delete unneeded emails & files, and avoid strange websites.
  1. Use an antivirus program: Jon recommends “Windows Defender” which is very good & free. Other antivirus programs may not be needed, but you should run “Malwarebytes” to clean viruses and malware from your device.
  1. Don’t trust anyone who “calls you”. The IRS doesn’t call! Your car warranty isn’t expiring! Do you even have a grandson? (Let alone a relative who “needs urgent bail money to get out of jail!”)