How to make yourself unhackable

Unhackable imac on desk online securityOk, so maybe “unhackable” is a bit strong. It’s impossible to ever truly be bulletproof online. But don’t let that stop you from protecting yourself; there many easy ways to keep your online accounts, Wi-Fi network, PC, and mobile devices secure – and that’s exactly what you should do. Here are a few key things we should all have off our checklists in order to keep the bad guys (or bad software) from sneaking into our machines and wreaking havoc on our lives.

Usernames and passwords

When crafting a username for online bank accounts or other sensitive services, don’t use the most obvious choices. That means, don’t use your name, any version of your name, your dog’s name, or any version of a family member’s name – all that information is likely readily available on the Web. And don’t use any username that you’ve employed for other accounts. Instead, use something that you’ve never used anywhere else online.

Passwords may be an antiquated way to protect our online accounts. But right now, they are the only option for most online accounts and gadgets. To craft a good password (which most people don’t do) it must be complex – lower-case and capital letters, numbers, and symbols are a must. I would suggest creating an acronym for your favorite phrase, then throwing symbols and your zip code or part of your childhood phone number at the end.

For example, turn the phrase “We mean no harm to your planet” into “WMnHtYP.” Then add in a symbol or two: WMnHtYP*$. And finally, your selected number, to give you the full password: WMnHtYP*$5172. Now, do that for each of your online accounts, including apps and iTunes or other online market places.

Of course, that’s a lot to remember, and writing down passwords can be just as dangerous if there’s a chance your password document falls into the wrong hands. Another option is to use a password manager app, like LastPass or 1Password, which does much of the hard work for you.

Update: Digital Trends’ PC reviewing mastermind Matt Smith adds that turning on two-step authentication whenever possible is a must for protecting your accounts. Gmail, for example, has this; see here for how to turn it on.

Wireless router

If you connect to the Internet over Wi-Fi, you need to make sure you have a secure connection. The first step is to password protect your router. (Each router is different; so if you don’t know how to do this, look up the instructions for doing so online.) And as mentioned above, make sure it’s a good password – the more complicated the better.

The next step is to turn off “broadcasting” of your network. This will make it so your Wi-Fi router doesn’t show up in other people’s lists of available connections. Most routers have this feature, which can be accessed through the router’s management software. (You can probably download this, if you don’t have it installed.) From there, you want to turn off the option that says “Enable SSID Broadcast” (or something like that). And you’re done!

Finally, you can stay extra secure by downloading network monitoring software like Fing, which allows you to check if anyone is on your Wi-Fi connection who’s not supposed to be.

Computer

We’ve all heard of antivirus software by now, so we don’t need to get into the nitty gritty of that. But you do need to install one, if you haven’t already. And then you need to keep it running. Malwarebytes is one of the best options out there, with both a free and paid version available. (Though, at $25, I’d recommend going for the Pro version.) Another good option is Bitdefender Total Security 2013, which will cost you about $52 right now, but has a slew of features that protect everything from your home PC to your social media accounts to your online bank accounts and more.

Note to Mac users: Cybersecurity experts predict that Macs will be increasingly targeted by hackers and malware in 2013, so don’t think you’re safe just because you have an Apple-made machine. You need antivirus software, too.

Smartphone or tablet

While not as vulnerable as a Windows PC, smartphones and tablets are still susceptible to viruses. Luckily for us, there are an increasing number of antivirus products out there for our mobile devices. For Android, check out either Avast! Mobile Security, or Lookout Security & Anti-virus. For iOS, your options are more limited, but VirusBarrier is a good, inexpensive option.

General don’ts

While software is a must-have, there’s a lot you can do to protect yourself just by creating good habits. Here are a few tips:

  • Never use the same password across multiple accounts. It’s hard to do, but failing to do this makes it possible for a hacker to gain access to a multitude of your accounts, and ruin your life more easily.
  • Don’t fill out online questionnaires or quizzes that ask for information like your date of birth, hometown, mother’s maiden name, or other data that is often used for security questions.
  • When filling out a security question (in case of a lost password, for example), don’t give an easy answer. For instance, if the question is “What is the name of your first pet?” Don’t just write “Rover.” Write “Rover451” or some other variant.
  • Don’t click ads on porn sites – they are one of the primary ways malware is spread.

 Correction: An earlier version of this article recommended turning on broadcasting of your Wi-Fi network; it should be turn off broadcasting. The error has been fixed.

Mobile

The Cat S48c is the phone for construction workers, or the clumsy

The Cat S48c is a rugged smartphone that's available from Sprint. It mixes midrange specs with a huge battery wrapped in an extremely tough and protective body. If you need a phone that can survive the construction site, then this is it.
Computing

Think someone's leeching off your Wi-Fi connection? Here's how to find out

It's important to find out immediately if anyone is stealing your bandwidth. Here's how to tell if someone is stealing your Wi-Fi using a few simple tools, along with some suggestions on improving security.
Computing

Fix those internet dead zones by turning an old router into a Wi-Fi repeater

Is there a Wi-Fi dead zone in your home or office? A Wi-Fi repeater can help. Don't buy a new one, though. Here is how to extend Wi-Fi range with another router you have lying around.
Mobile

How to use iOS 12’s Passwords and Accounts tool to autofill passwords

Keeping track of all your passwords and accounts can be a real chore. If you use an iPhone with iOS 12, then you don't have to. Here's how to use iOS 12's own password manager to autofill passwords.
Computing

How good are you at spotting phishing scams? Take this quiz to find out

Are you able to discern between a legitimate email and one that's a scam designed to phish for your personal information? Google created an online quiz with tips to help you better understand phishing so you don't become a victim.
Computing

Yes, you can use Android apps on your Chromebook. Here's how

You can now get Android apps on your Chromebook! Google has enabled the Google Play Store app support on its Chrome OS and Chromebook hardware, so to get you started, here's our guide on how to get Android apps on a Chromebook.
Computing

AMD’s Graphics Core Next successor could give a big boost to parallel computing

A published patent application from AMD has revealed a new type of graphics processor core which could make a big difference to the capabilities of its GPUs if it finds its way into them in the future.
Computing

Microsoft targets Chrome OS with $189 Windows 10 laptops for education

Microsoft announced seven new low-cost Windows 10 laptops, all priced under $300 to take on Chromebooks and iPads in the education market, along with a new Microsoft Allora stylus for students using the Surface Go tablet.
Computing

Lenovo patent hints at a future tablet with a folding screen

Folding devices are a new trend, and according to a recent patent, Lenovo is considering a foldable 2-in-1 with a hinge mechanism that would allow consumers to bend back the screen on the device. 
Computing

Wifi Porter is a high-tech block of wood that lets you share your broadband

Tired of manually connecting your guests to your home Wi-Fi network? The latest invention from the folks at Ten One Design, the WifiPorter, allow individuals to connect to your Wi-Fi with the tap of their phone, or by scanning an available…
Computing

Midrange Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics card may be 20 percent faster than GTX 1060

In the freshest development in graphics card rumors, alleged benchmarks are showing that the GTX 1660 Ti graphics card could be as much as 20 percent faster when compared to the older GTX 1060. 
Computing

Work and play anywhere with these portable, large-screen monitors

Via a recent and successful Kickstarter campaign by Unick, a new line of portable, large-screen monitors has been announced. The Gemini Taihe line of monitors offers two models: the Gemini FHD and the Gemini UHD.
Product Review

The Digital Storm Aventum X is an unstoppable gaming PC. Trust us, we tried

Packed with dual-Nvidia RTX 2080 Ti graphics card and a 9th-generation Intel Core i9 processor, the Aventum X is an infinitely upgradeable gaming PC that’s capable of far more performance than you’ll ever need.
Computing

It took Dell years to fix 1 problem on its best laptop. Here’s how they did it

The new Dell XPS 13 moves the webcam from the below the screen to the top, finally vanquishing the one obstacle facing thin, sleek laptop displays. We have the exclusive story on how it was done.