Yes, it’s true. Just yesterday, My Dad got hacked. We at DoubleGeek like to think that we have some of the most secure personal computers on the continent. We’ve got everything: Anti-Viruses, secure passwords, locked down firewalls, drive encryption, the whole enchilada. But, well, we know that most people couldn’t be bothered with encrypting, scanning, configuring and basically locking their computer down. Because, really, what would people want with your data? Well, you’re just as vulnerable as everyone else.
How he got hacked
My Dad got hit by a type of web virus called a worm. This is an email scam, whereby a hacker sends an email containing a file (usually a Google Docs file) to a person lacking in common sense. The Google Docs file is actually some crazy type of malware file, which simply LOOKS like a Google Docs file. If the person falls for it and clicks on the file, the malware installs itself and then proceeds to send a copy of the email to all the person’s contacts, making the email look legit (because it looks like the person that first got infected is sending the email). This process repeats itself until many, many people get infected, making worms quite annoying. Here’s how you can stop the worm getting to you
Check if your details are on the Dark Web
The Dark Web is the name for the distressingly large part of the internet in which shady hackers buy and sell your information. If you’ve never done it before, or you have an account with Linkedin, Adobe or MySpace (who all recently got hacked) I HIGHLY recommend going to haveibeenpowned.com and entering your email address, and the site will check if your info is on the Dark Web, and (if you ask it to) will also notify you if it ever finds your info there. Make sure to visit immediately if you read about a hack of a site you belong to.
Google your details
If your info is on the Dark Web, it’s not very likely that Google will be able to find it, but Googling your info (like your phone number, email address etc.) is always worth a shot.
Encrypt your hard drive
If hackers do get onto your computer, you want to make sure that they’ll never be able to read your info. I’m not going to go into it, but our colleagues at How-To Geek have created a very good tutorial for using BitLocker for Windows, and there’s a great Apple Support page on using FileVault for Mac.
Practice common sense
I’m not saying that you lack common sense, but seriously, you need to TRAIN your common sense. If you get sent a file, wouldn’t you think, “Well, it’s from a trusted friend, so it must be legitimate.” That’s what they WANT you to think. So think: “Would my friend use the service? Is that my friend’s style of writing? Would my friend even send me this file?” If ANY of these answers are no, leave the file and contact your friend and make sure they sent it.
And What to do if you get hit.
So that you don’t waste your life responding to the flurry of emails saying: “Dude what the heck?!” You can simply setup an Out Of Office reply, which will automatically respond to any emails received with a message composed by you. You can set it to say something like, “I’m sorry if you received an email with a file recently. I’ve just been hacked and it’s out of control” Here are instructions for Gmail. If you’re using any other service, just switch already. Also, if you’ve JUST been hit, check your Outbox to see if there are any messages left in the queue, and delete them immediately.
While the chance of you getting hacked is quite low, last night proved to me and Sam that they are real. Don’t delay, protect today!
Have you ever been hacked? I’d love to hear about it down in the comments!