Finding that your website has been replaced by the face of a nasty goblin is both scary and annoying. It is a sure sign of a hacker’s presence; you do not know how safe your information is anymore. Further, you have to find ways to repair your computer or rebuild your blogging platform.
Images source Pixabay
The good news is that you can stop these malicious intruders from gaining entry into your website and your life. To start, delve into the mind of a hacker and find out how he thinks. Unravel why hacking is so rampant and, most importantly, how to prevent it.
Why hacking is prevalent
Why do hackers disrupt? They may have several reasons for defacing a computer’s system.
Some of these miscreants are out for revenge. Many of them have left their workplaces and aim to put the companies they left in vulnerable positions by revealing their data.
Then, there is ego. Being privy to classified information edifies hackers. It makes them feel superior. They become addicted to secret knowledge; it excites them like a clandestine affair in soap opera.
Some hackers defile website out of boredom. It is the same reason teens have for lining walls and subway trains with graffiti.
Others destroy websites out of greed. Some break into a system and pilfer funds. Many of them extort, using photographs obtained from their target’s site. They threaten to expose these compromising images if the victim does not pay them.
40 tips to prevent hacking
Since fraudulent activity is prevalent on the web, protecting your computer is imperative. There is a host of measures that you can take to stop nosy hackers from infiltrating your computer.
1. Know about different types of hackers
Before you take these steps, it is a good idea to know who may try to break into your computer’s system. Understanding a hacker’s motivations will put you in a good position to take precautions.
Black hats are hackers who cause the most concern. They proliferate computers and web sites for the wrong reasons. Some may do so to steal, and others to extort. Since their coding skills are top-of-the-line, defend your computer by updating file permissions and tweaking your website’s HTML code.
Then, beware of script kids. These are novice hackers do not have all the skills to penetrate your site, but can use computer programs to breach it.
Computer security hackers are dangerous fellows. They have the skills to break through firewalls; make sure that the one you use is reliable.
Change codes, filing permissions and secure your passwords to stop these computer criminals from gaining access to your website or network.
2. Avoid unfamiliar links
One of the main ways hackers infect computers with malware is by enticing an unsuspecting victim to open an email attachment. You can spot phishing emails by the spelling and grammar mistakes in them. Some of them, however, are hard to tell apart from regular emails.
3. Do not use the same password for different sites
Research shows that over half of adults in the United Kingdom use the same password for every website they visit. Some leave obvious clues, such as their birth dates, pets names or favorite sports channels. Make your password undecipherable by using special characters or symbols.
4. Do not reuse your email password
A hacker will have the keys to your computer if he manages to breach your email password. He can reset the passwords to the other sites you frequent using your email account. Emails offer him a wealth of personal data, such as your date of birth, banking, and passport details, which allow him to commit theft or ID fraud.
5. Install antivirus software
Malware is constantly evolving, which keeps the companies producing antiviruses on their toes. It takes software developers some time to catch up with master hackers. Make sure that you install a reliable anti-virus software, such as Norton or MacAfee, on your computer.
6. Block strange friend requests
Being online often allows you to make many friends on social media. If any of them appear suspicious, ignore their requests and block them. It is paramount to inviting a stranger into your home.
7. Tweet discriminately
Many people share their personal information via Twitter or Facebook as these platforms make communication efficient. However, trawling social media sites are how hackers secure personal information. Do not share birth dates, identity numbers or other personal information via your Facebook or Twitter accounts.
8. Shop on secure sites
Before you give your identity card or personal information on a shopping site, make sure that the key or locked padlock symbols show on your browser. The URL of a secure site should also convert from HTTP to https.
9. Ignore pop-ups
Bypass pop-ups whenever possible. Many lure users into verifying personal details. A download takes place without you realizing it, and it installs malware. Overlook, in particular, pop-ups that offer site surveys.
10. Use public WiFi with care
Be wary when using public WIFI. Public WIFI does not usually encrypt information. Your personal details travel through a wireless network, and packet sniffers( data deciphering programs) can retrieve your unencrypted personal information. Do not share personal information if you are surfing the net in a coffee house or bistro.
11. Use more than one email account
Use separate email accounts for work, social media and shopping. A hacker will find it hard to compromise your computer’s system because it will involve more guesswork. Although configuring email accounts is a hassle, remember that it may make him give up trying to decipher your passwords.
12. Your Mac is vulnerable
Do not be mistaken that Windows systems are the only weak ones. In years gone by, hackers used to craft malware programs for Windows, as these were the most frequently used. Macs are becoming increasingly popular. Hackers are always searching for loopholes in a computer’s system.
13. Do not store your credit card information on websites
Avoid leaving your credit card information behind on sites for future use, unless the site’s location is secure. It takes an extra minute to key in information each time you surf a site, but it prevents you from being victimized by hackers.
14. Use two-step verification
Set up two-step verification for services that offer it. Apart from keying your password in, you will have to activate a code sent via SMS. A hacker may breach your password but cannot access your details without the code to do so.
15. Lock your computer
Lock your computer as you would your car. You may have to key in your password several times a day, but this is worth it if it prevents your computer or other devices from being hacked.
16. Be wary when using auction sites
Are you a die-hard Ebay user? Look out for buyers or sellers whose details are too good to be true. Change your passwords regularly to keep your information secure. Have a separate bank account for such sites, to prevent fraud.
17. Protect yourself by using WordPress updates
Update your programs every time WordPress introduces new versions of them. If you miss updating them, security flaws in the old programs you use will permit a hacker’s entry. Do not give hm a chance to make his way into your site.
18. Use a secure hosting server
Most WordPress blogs are on shared servers because using them costs less. Find out how often your hosting site maintains its server. Accumulated unused files, sites and data are havens for hackers.
19. Implement network security
Hackers can poach data on unsecured network connections. Secure your network with a password. Rely on a host that allows SSH protection.
20. Secure your databases
Automated SQL codes can hack into WordPress sites. If you host several blogs on your server, all your sites are at risk. Use individual databases to host each blog. Rename your databases to throw hackers off course.
21. Hide your login and admin names
Conceal your login and admin names or your site will get hacked. All a hacker needs to do is add ?author=1 behind your site’s URL and the site owner’s name will show. He can damage your site with a tweak of a few algorithms.
22. Use security plugins
Other than hiding your login or admin name, you can guard your site with security plugins. A plugin like Limit Login Attempts will restrict the time a hacker has to alter codes on your site. SSL encrypts your login sessions, which makes data difficult for hackers to hijack.
Plugins like Acunetix Secure WordPress run WordPress Security Scans. To protect the admin panel, it erases data from the login page. Error messages are hints to a hacker that he is on the right track to guessing the correct password.
23. Alter wp configuration codes
Altering the configuration code in the root folder can stop a hacker in his tracks. Edit PHP files from the dashboard, which is where a hacker will wreak havoc. Then, put in a stabilizing prefix like “define”. An example of this is define(‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true); This prevents a hacker from injecting SQL code.
24. Backup your site
Save your site’s data in case a hacker breaches it. You will need it to restore your site in the event of a hack.
25. Download files from trusted sources
You may feel the urge to save costs by using pirated plugins. However, they make your site susceptible to hacks. They give hackers backdoor entry to your computer’s system. Note that Google may blacklist your site for containing malware.
26. Appear like a pro
One way to prevent unnecessary hacks is to appear, and preferably know, what you are doing. Change the names on your posts, comments and file directories.
If you are familiar with HTML coding, go a step further. Erase the ** from the meta-generator tag. To make your WordPress version indiscernible to a recalcitrant hacker, take away its description from your site’s RSS feed.
27. Use the right file permissions
Most novice WordPress users set their file permissions at 777, a setting which makes their sites an open house. It gives a hacker backdoor access and allows him to install malware. Default permissions should be 755 for directories and 544 for files.
28. Use IP filtering
This simple, but efficient tool prevents a hacker from accessing your site via your IP address. Protect it with a simple code, such as this:
Order Deny, Allow
Deny from All
Allow from [Add your IP address] </Files>
This code works for static IP addresses, but you can protect your site if you use a dynamic IP address. Use this code if your site’s IP address rotates.
Order Deny, Allow
Deny from All
Allow from [Add your IP address] </FilesMatch>
29. Use security plugins
You can protect your site from unnecessary hacks by using security plugins. iThemes Security protects WordPress themes. Block Bad Queries blocks suspicious, long request strings, while Antivirus plugins will scan your site regularly.
30. Update software diligently
Be religious about updating software. Doing so prevents hackers from gaining backdoor access via the vulnerabilities in older versions of programs. If you use a Windows desktop, enable Microsoft updates so that you will update your computer’s programs as well.
31. Go incognito
You leave a glaring digital trail when you surf on the web. Hackers sniff it and siphon sensitive information. The way to circumvent this is to browse anonymously. Use the private browsing feature in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari.
32. Validate website input
Use captchas or other types of validation software. They prevent a nasty hacker from inserting malicious HTML code into comment boxes.
33. Avoid third party scripts
Do not install scripts from third parties without first seeking advice. Many of them are gateways for hackers. Two sites, Digital Point and Site Point, give guidance on safe, downloadable programs.
34. Clear your browser cookies
You may want to retain your browsing history because you want quick access to sites. However, information on it a breeding ground for hacking. Clear your browser’s history regularly.
35. Secure sensitive data
Store important information securely to prevent hackers from harvesting valuable data like email addresses or databases.
36. Secure your ports
Ports pass your data from your computer to another server. As they do, they become gateways for hackers to lift data. Close your ports thoroughly once you have no use for them.
37. Install firewalls
Install an efficient firewall. Many of these systems pick up potentially nasty codes in files. Norton and MacAfee are good examples of such security systems. MacKeeper does a good job of keeping the data in a Macbook safe.
38. Do not run redundant software
Do not run programs that are out-of-date, as they will have vulnerabilities that a savvy hacker will exploit. Update the programs you use regularly.
39. Use a secure WordPress Theme
Before you download a WordPress theme, make sure that it is secure. Buy themes from reputable sources and update its plugin regularly.
40 Use SSL
If you are not familiar with the acronym SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It ensures that your computer’s network is sending information to the right servers and not being misdirected to a hacker’s site. Reliable providers will only endorse companies that have gone through strict background checks.
Understanding a hacker’s motivations and tricks will allow you to avoid his clutches. Follow these tips, and keep your computer network safe.