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XIV. The top ten things you didn’t know about hacking
11/01/2016
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XV. Don’t get hacked

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Hackers like Decker, Raycast and Dex aren’t just dab hands at infiltrating data systems, they’re also masters of stopping others infiltrating theirs. In our post, ‚The top ten things you didn’t know about hacking,‘ we looked at a range of ways in which hackers can access your data without you ever knowing about it. Now it’s time to take a look at some ways you can defend yourself against them.

This is not the stuff of a cyberpunk future – this is the here and now…

You are someone doing pretty well for yourself. You’ve made your way in the world – you have stuff that others want and you bought it all with the money you earned by your wits, wile and hard work. You don’t want to lose it.

And yet, there is a price for standing out in the crowd. People notice you for good and for bad. You are fully aware that cyberthieves – the worst kind of hackers – might one day cast their eyes your way. There is a chance that on the same day they’ll put together a team to take what you own. You know too, that with the right kind of data, these dark denizens of the internet will drain your bank accounts in a flash or use your identity to take out loans, credit cards and mortgages in your name.

But, you didn’t get to where you are by being a pushover. The first thing you have done to stop this day coming is to educate yourself – just like you did for your career, you invested time in learning what cyber threats are out there and what you need to do to stay safe from them. More than any technical protection, you are aware that knowledge is your best line of defence.

You surprise people when you tell them you don’t use anti-virus software. They don’t get this. You explain by telling them that malware software is way overrated – it protects you against threats that have been and gone, when it is the new threats, the zero day malware, which you really need to be afraid of – those viruses that no malware developer has found yet, let alone scripted ways to remove it. You know too that anti-malware leaves people complacent, makes them think they’re safe online when they’re not. They get complacent, they take risks, they expose themselves…

Instead of anti-malware you use a Virtual OS – why kill the illness, when you can prevent yourself from every getting infected? Before you connect to the internet, you open this sandbox operating system on your computer. Then, even if you are infected online, you just wipe the OS clean at the end of your session – a nuke for any unwanted programs – and, bang, you’re back to your safety baseline. “But what about files you download while online?” ask your naysaying friends. “Surely they stay on your computer – you need them.” Simple, you don’t save them locally – you save them in the cloud, and you encrypt the important ones.

Oh yes – and you use Linux too – it’s the safest OS by far.

What else? Passwords make problems. Any password strong enough to protect you against a brute force attack is near impossible to remember – and you need a whole list of them for all your different accounts. So, you use a password manager that generates super-secure passwords, stores them in a secure, local vault and automatically inserts them whenever needed.

You don’t even have to worry about keylogging viruses thanks to your virtual Linux OS. But you use trifactor authentication on your password manager just to be sure. Ask any security expert: the safest authentication is a combination of three things – something you know (your password), something you have (a security token) and something you are (biometric authentication – your fingerprint).

“What about your IP address? Surely a hacker targeting you can find a security vulnerability once they locate you online and know which sites you visit?”

Na – you use a VPN. Every time you go online, you tunnel your internet connection to a different part of the world and access it from there. Your internet footprint is about as traceable as a chameleon in a teleporter.

“Okay – then, what about those tricks hacker use to sniff your WiFi use?” Also no – because you don’t use just any VPN, you use Open VPN with SSL encryption protocol– making your internet connection an impervious tunnel of encryption, the kind of which has never been hacked. What’s more – you have the VPN on your mobile phone too, so they can’t even get you while you’re on the move.

“So – what now?”

Nothing. Now it’s time to kick back and relax – your data and your cash is nobody’s but yours, and because your cyber security is as impenetrable as Lancelot in a nuclear bunker, it’s sure as hell going to stay that way.