FFE Magazine

Kiss your privacy goodbye if you don’t follow these online protection tips


Photo from Elie Burztein

With over two billion people using the internet, it is understandable that governments around the world have started to mandate cyber protection as a basic need and right. Howver, the legal nuances of pursuing a hacking case makes it almost impossible for an ordinary citizen to punish a hacker. Thus, it is not enough to rely on these laws. We should also learn to protect ourselves and be more vigilant againstonline hackers and internet criminals.

Although some hack just for the thrill of being able to break into your online property, most have malicious intentions. Many of them may be identity thieves searching for your credit card information, or trying to access your work or intellectual property. Others may hack your account to send out spam mail or online scams such as the notorious “stranded traveler” scam. 

The “stranded traveler” scam allows hackers to take over your account and send emails to your contacts; saying you have been stranded in some country and in need of money to return home.

More than 150,000 people have been victims of this fraud in the US alone. All over the world, the numbers are multiplying. The best way to avoid harmful cases like this is to be on the offensive. This means practicing safe internet usage and by arming yourself with proper soft wares or programs.

Tips to make yourself hacker-proof

Do not use the same password for everything. Having one password may be convenient, but it also makes the hacker’s job easier of infiltrating all your online accounts and personal information. Similarly, do notto use the same email address for everything.

Have a strong password. Hackers do not justguess your password, they make use of programs designed to run through various letter and number combinations until it gets a match. The challenge for you is to make a password that is impossible to be guessed or breached by any kind of program. Here are some guidelines when choosing a strong password:

                > Make it alphanumeric (includes both letters and numbers) Ex. 18apple4

                > Capitalize at least ONE letter. Ex. 18apPle4

                > Use words that are gibberish. Nonsensical words are better than say, your dog’s name, because they cannot be                 traced back to you. Ex. 18apPle4kangaroobA

Do not choose easy-to-answer security questions. Questions about you (your favourite things, the name of your high school teacher, etc.) can easily be guessed or researched by a hacker.

Beware of Wi-Fi. Areas with free Wi-Fi are actually a hacker’s playground because internet connection is rarely secure. Many hackers set up a fake access points (PC to PC) to make it seem like you are joining a legitimate service.

Share less on social media platforms. Any information you publicly display or share can be used by a hacker. Details of your latest Louis Vuitton bag purchase, for example, can attract hackers to think you are a profitable target.

Never click a link (or open an attachment) in an email from some one you do not know. For obvious reasons, it could be spam mail. In other advanced cases, clicking an unknown link may let hackers gain control over your computer and access to your private files andinformation. Other times, they may turn on your computer-connected webcam and microphone and unnoticeably spy on you.

Read privacy policies thoroughly and carefully. Some policies state that your registration automatically gives the site the right to reuse your address or share other personal information publicly.

Enable two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication is when sites require you to enter both your password and a code (which may either be sentto your mobile phone or email) when you log in for the first time. This is a good option to consider when registering on a site because it gives you an extra layer of protection.

Software tools and programs

Run an Anti-Virus.

> Panda Cloud Security 2.0


- Real-time Antivirus & Antispyware

- Behavioural analysis protection

- Process Monitor

- Automatic & transparent upgrades

- URL & web filtering

- Pros: Has very good detection system; Effective in blocking in threats; Quick anti-virus scans; Easy installation

- Cons: Firewall is unavailable in the FREE version; Does not have the name recognition of Microsoft’s comparable Security Essentials.
- Price: FREE

- Panda Cloud Pro Edition (with Community Firewall, Protection in public WiFi networks and Automatic USB vaccination) Price: € 23.01

> Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2013


                – Real-Time Protection against all known & emerging threats

                – Hybrid Protection combines the power of the cloud & your PC

                – Proactive Detection of unknown malware

                – Automatic Exploit Prevention ensures vulnerabilities will not compromise your PC

                – Rollback of harmful malware activity

                – Intelligent Scanning & Updates deliver maximum PC performance

                – Anti-Phishing protects your digital identity

                – Pros: Has one of the smoothest-functioning advanced security technologies; Has an Exploit prevention engine       and a Safe Money banking protection tool that you can interact with directly.

                – Cons: Not cheap; Kapersky’s performance might lag your computer activities
                – Price: € 30.66

Run an Anti-Malware

> MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Version 1.70


                – Advanced Malware Detection and Removal

                – Industry Proven Clean-up Technologies Eradicate Existing Malware Infections

                – Rapid Response Malware Database and Heuristics Updates

                – Access to our Expert Community and Knowledgeable Support Team (Email/Forums)

                – Chameleon Technology Gets Malwarebytes Running on Infected Systems

                – Multi-Language Support (currently 35 and counting!)

                – Pros: Quick anti-malware scans; Responsive malware remover; Smooth installation
- Cons: Does not have any new features or updates from the previous version of MalwareBytes

                – Price: FREE

                – MalwareBytes Anti-Malware Pro Edition (with Real-Time Active Malware Prevention Engine Blocks Known                 Threats, Heuristic Protection Prevents New Zero Day Malware Infections, Malicious Website Protection Blocks                 Access to Known and Zero Day Malicious Web Content, Automatic Priority Updates and Scheduled Scanning)                 Price: € 22.95

Run a Host Intrusion Prevention System.

> Super AntiSpyware


                – Quick, Complete and Custom Scanning of Hard Drives, Removable Drives, Memory, and Registry            

                 - Detects and Removes Spyware, Adware, Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers and many     other types of threats.

                – Trust Items and Exclude Folders for complete customization of scanning

                – Pros:Comprehensive program that cleans up spy ware others soft wares (including Ad-Aware,   Malwarebytes, Spybot, AVG and avast) miss; Interface is straightforward;

                – Cons: Program cannot deal with true viruses; Automatically runs scans too often.
- Price: FREE

Run a Firewall. 

> Comodo Firewall 


-          Trustconnect – CIS auto-detects unsecured wireless connections and lets you connect using TrustConnect.

-          Faster AV scans with ‘Smart Scan’ Technology.

-          Malware deletion capabilities.

-          Dragon browser is included with CIS.

-          Pros:Protects your system from viruses, Trojans, worms, hacker attacks, and other threats; Program includes a Geek Buddy subscription, the SecureDNS network, and a speedy, secure Web browser; Easy to use
Cons: Performance might lag your computer; Program has some bugs that some times refuses to initialize and cause instability with your OS.

-          Price: FREE

Run a Key Scrambler – Key scramblers are used to protect yourself from keylogging, a program that can record everything you type, including usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, and other sensitive information.

> KeyScrambler Personal


-          Protects 29 popular browsers against keylogging, including Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Firefox.

-          Pros: Installs and uninstalls without issues; Easy to use; Does not cause any significant slowdowns; One of the most reliable according to user reviews.

-          Cons: Does not show up in Firefox add-ons; Sometimes messes up on websites asking for name, address, and other info; Places scrambled data in boxes meant for information.

-            Price: FREE

 Remember to update all your programs regularly, as new viruses emerge everyday.



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