Staying a step ahead of hackers

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Updated: 11/13/2012 9:09 am Published: 11/12/2012 8:57 pm

Chances are it's happened to you or someone you know.

A stranger on the other side of town or the other side of the world hacks his or her way into your life.

It happened to Arletta Arruda
"First I got a phone call from a friend that said 'hey, did you send me a message on Facebook about looking at a picture, or going to a Web site and looking at a picture of me?' And I was like what are you talking about,” she told FOX23.
Hacking in 2012 has evolved. Instead of hyper caffeinated 20-somethings infiltrating large computer networks, today’s scammers use the cover of social media to blindside you into making a critical mistake.
Here’s how you can keep from being on of the 600,000 Americans who get hacked everyday.
When it comes to online shopping make sure the website you're using is secure, but don't take the site's word for it, do your own checking. Look for a lock icon on a web browser. It appears in the address bar, and is marked green to let you know it's safe.
On social media site, don't let curiosity get the best of you. Spammers and hackers will try to trick you into clicking a link; they do that by posting about passwords, pin numbers and pictures
Also when you pay with a credit card for something from a retail website, experts recommend having one card dedicated for online purchases only. When you get your bill, it will be easy to spot any irregularities.
Don’t be click happy. Anyone can disguise a link, by going on a website like Unmask Parasites you can see how safe a website is without visiting it first and putting yourself and your at risk. This is especially helpful when questionable links arrive in your in box.
“Almost every common email program out there today, if you mouse over a link it will show you what the actual link is. Instead of it saying, you hover over it and it takes you to some place in China, that's a clue. Don't click on that,” Damon Doremus, owner of Geek Rescue, told FOX23.
What happens if you are hacked? The first thing you need to do is immediately cancel your credit cards.  Then alert any banks or lenders so they know to be on the look out for irregular activity on your account. You should also change your passwords for all websites where you've made purchases, your social media accounts, and the pin numbers for your financial accounts.
You want anti virus software, but those programs will do you no good if they're not the most up to date versions. Update the software every week; the day you take out the trash make sure you’re your anti virus software isn't trash too.
Finally, remember your cell phones and tablets are just as much of a target for hackers as your computers. Use apps for those devices so that you have all the safe safety measures you need on your hand held devices.
Do these within minutes of learning your digital identity is criminal hands; waiting could be the difference between being a simple embarrassment and a cyber crime disaster on your hands.

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