Online security expert shows how to protect yourself from hackers

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With online information breeches becoming more and more common, an online security expert wants you to know a few simple ways to keep your information safe and private.

“One of the problems that we have is that we’re trying to solve what is a human problem with computers.” That’s according to Leviathan Security expert, Chad Larsen. Large corporations pay him to hack into their system and look for flaws.

Larsen explains, “The act of attempting to find vulnerabilities within software, within devices; networking devices, computing devices, the gamut of anything that processes or functions as a computer.”

Larsen says one of the biggest reasons hacking is successful, at least on a smaller scale, is due to our own weak passwords. “Typically these accounts are being breeched through a process that’s known as 'brute forcing.' It’s a process where a computer guesses passwords and usernames. There are lists of people’s e-mail addresses out there, and then there are libraries of sample passwords and phrases that a computer then puts these two together in a login form.”

He recommends strong, unique passwords that are hard to guess, but easy to remember. “A childhood phrase, storybook phrase of the sorts, the lazy brown fox jumped over, something like that. Taking the initial letters from that lazy brown fox and the spelling out the word fox in all capitals; maybe replacing the “o” with a zero, but generally it’s a phrase that’s memorable to me but it’s been mutated into something that would make it strong as a password,” said Larsen.

But if a hacker can’t gain access to your account through brute force, they may try a different tactic. Larsen warns, “Some other methods for doing this type of hacking is social engineering. Sending an e-mail to the target in a form that looks like it’s coming from the bank.”

Larsen says to never log onto a bank site through an external link. Go directly to the site and be extra cautious when doing it wirelessly. “Things like not accessing their banking accounts or their banking websites from public WiFi. We certainly wouldn’t recommend going to Starbucks and then pulling up your Bank application,” Larsen warned.

And be sure to always check your settings. Larsen says, “When we hear about vulnerabilities in the "Cloud", these great sensationalized stories, and we found 80% of private information was discovered on the internet, 9 times out of 10 that’s traced back to poor configuration.” So being proactive with just a few small things can help keep you safe from a big attack.

Larsen says, “When you’re following the best practices, you don’t really have to worry about an attack there. Doing things like maintaining your system, applying software patches, ensuring that your anti-virus is up to date- those are all just good security hygiene, and for most consumers that’s enough.”

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