How to ‘hack proof’ your life

 It’s no secret the last year has not been a great one for Internet privacy. Michaels is just one retailer to report a large scale data hack, saying 2.6 million customers were impacted.

That comes a year after Target’s massive pre-Christmas data breach of credit and debit card information. These data breaches no doubt left many of you feeling uncomfortable about using your credit or debit card on the Internet. But the experts say you should not stand by waiting to become a victim.

Chloe Deweese has been in the computer business for years. And if there’s one thing she knows well, it’s cyber security.

“People who do a lot of online banking and shopping are ultimately at higher risk,” Deweese says.

Deweese says it’s important to “hack-proof” your life now so your personal information isn’t at risk.

“Just like locking your house, or locking your car door, what the thieves and the hackers are looking for is the car that is open,” Deweese says. “It is the same thing in the computer world. The hackers are out there looking for the computers that are open without password protection, without good basic protection.”

Deweese says it’s crucial to have a strong password to protect us online.

“If you are going to use a password, go ahead and make it a complex password,” Deweese says. “Make it friendly. Use a pet’s name, kid’s name or sports team name but throw some curves in there for the hackers. Put an uppercase letter in it, a special character at the beginning or the end or somewhere in the middle of it.”

In the long run, these extra steps will help protect you and your family.

“They are looking for easy targets and so if you are protecting your computer and doing all those basic things, good antivirus, internet security protection, updating Windows, using passwords and changing passwords, then you are not attractive to a hacker,” Deweese says.

And don’t forget to lock your cellphone. It might be annoying to punch in those four digits every time, but that’s minor compared to the huge hassle when someone steals your phone.

Also, check your credit card accounts daily. Ninety percent of consumers don’t check their credit card statements before paying the charges. And opt for credit, rather than debit. It may seem safer, but debit card companies only give you two days to refute charges.

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