Click Here: Directions hackers want you to follow

It's just as important to protect your online identity as it is to lock your front door, experts say. (WRDW-TV / July 7, 2011)

It's just as important to protect your online identity as it is to lock your front door, experts say. (WRDW-TV / July 7, 2011)

News 12 First at Five / Thursday, July 7, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- We do just about everything online now from connecting with our friends to shopping to paying our bills. However, if you're not careful doing these things, you could lose valuable personal information to hackers.

"It's not easy, but it's getting easier [to hack] and getting more doable," said ASU Information and Decision Technologies Professor Dr. Todd Schultz.

And once the hacking is done, experts say your information is at risk. They also say if you've been hacked, someone else probably has, too.

"It's rare, though, that hacks come from working through and figuring out somebody's password," Schultz said. "Usually the hacks are a little more lower level attacks at the big computers, the servers that are managing the system."

Servers like Sony's Playstation Network that was hacked a few months ago. Hackers stole thousands of users' passwords.

Even though experts say there's not much you can do if hackers get into big companies' servers, there are things you can do to keep yourself as protected as possible.

Use strong passwords with uppercase and lowercase letters. Make sure your passwords have numbers and punctuation signs in them, too.

Also, be sure to answer any security questions wrong intentionally so people have a hard time figuring them out.

The big rule, experts say, is to think before you click.

"It's a little bit like any good habit," Schultz said. "Brushing your teeth everyday. Locking your doors."

Even if your doors are dead-bolted online, experts say you can never be too careful.

"There are some neighborhoods that obviously you would not even walk into or drive through," Schultz said. "Same thing leaving email addresses or even comments and postings online."

Schultz said one of the biggest hacks is when you're surfing the Web, and a window pops up saying you have viruses on your computer. These windows usually offer to clean your computer for you. Schultz says that couldn't be further from the truth.

Another piece of advice Schultz offered -- if you bank online -- is to check your URL bar. That's the bar at the top of your screen. Before your bank's web address should be 'https://." The "s" after "http" means your bank uses a secure server that is more difficult to hack.


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