So if an internet giant like Bob Parsons can get hacked, how can you protect yourself? Here are a few quick and easy methods to protect yourself from those who would do harm:
1) Keep your computer’s operating system and your web browser updated. Most will update automatically, or at least notify you when an updated release is available. Those updates contain a lot of nice features, but many releases contain priority security fixes.
2) Install a reputable ad-blocker and popup-blocker. Many web pages that you go to will automatically download a cookie to your computer. Some web pages download something a little more sinister. The only way you can be sure? Validate things that are downloaded from unfamiliar websites.
3) Don’t use the same password for everything!! Generate a secure password for every site you use, using a free tool such as RandPass.com. Then download a tool (from a reputable company) to remember those passwords for you. 1Password is great. It’s not free, but measure the cost of the software versus the cost of a hack attack.
4) Oh be careful, little hands, what you install. Did you navigate to a website that asked you to install something? Were you intending to install something? Did you get an email from someone you don’t know, or better yet, someone you DO know, with jibberish text and an ‘.exe’ attachement? Unless you’re aware that the email and the executable file was coming (and 98% of the time, that’s not the case), DON’T OPEN IT!! Don’t even click it. Delete the email. Better safe than hacked.
5) Backup like a banshee. Hey, sometimes things happen. Better to have a backup from last night, or last month even, than have to rebuild all those photos of you and your girlfriend, grandchildren, friends doing something stupid enough to keep around for possible future blackmail, etc.
All that said, don’t be afraid of the internet. But have a little street smarts, and you should be fine.