Ask the Experts

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My online accounts and laptop have all been targeted by hackers. It has affected the way I use them. How do I protect myself?

This is a universal question, moreover threat, that people face all over the world. We have a list of fixes for you, but our first response may surprise you.

The chief flaw in online security is you, the user. We have displaced confidence in the technology and its messages. Advertising used to be in-your-face promotion. Now, the ads are targeted at you, by tracking your online activity. There is a comfort level established. We learned from Internet lawyers that hackers and spammers can hitch a ride on this online activity. That is why it is so important for you to be careful.

So here is the list. We concentrated on preventing theft, rather than spying on your data. The government has to pass laws for the latter.

Password protection. Most people know to use a variation of letters, numbers and symbols. The lesson is not to use the same password on different accounts, multiplying your vulnerability, warns Digitech, web designers.

Security question. These questions can often be answered by researching you online. Public data and your social media reveal many of those so-called security questions.

WiFi password. Every time you search for access, you see a list of encrypted routers. There is always someone who has open access. Keep a password on your wi-fi and be careful when joining public networks.

Updates. These often force me to restart my computer, so I avoid them. Many are security patches specifically created to protect you. Another lesson here is to update your computer and operating system frequently.

Clicking on unknown links. Threats to your computer always come in this format. It is the easiest way to introduce malware into your files. This was our premise, that the user is the unsecure part of the computer.

Consider this list your toughest exam. If you did not get 100%, you failed.

Sam Shepard is a marketing specialist with digital marketing agency, Digital Next.