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How to avoid getting hacked

Maria Mora is a freelance writer and single mom fueled by coffee, questionable time management skills, toaster oven waffles and the color orange. She lives in Florida with her two young sons. If you see her on Twitter, tell her to stop p...

Don't fall prey to common hacks

Ever gotten a weird link in an email? Learn how to avoid being part of the hacking problem. Keep your social media and online accounts safe and learn how to spot scams and hacks.

When you get hacked, it feels personal. It's unsettling and inconvenient when your social media accounts, email or other accounts are compromised. Learn how to protect yourself from common phishing schemes and hacks.

Be smart about usernames and passwords

Do you use the same username and password everywhere? That may be convenient and easy to remember, but it puts you at risk. When the data of an online shop is compromised, hackers have your username and password. If you use the same login credentials on your email or bank account, your security has been seriously compromised. Change your passwords frequently or consider using 1Password, a service that creates strong, unique passwords and remembers them for you. Don't forget to use a challenging username as well. Don't use your email address.

Keep your software up-to-date

It's no joke when your security software tells you it's time to download and install updates. Even if you're staying on top of updates from your antivirus and antimalware software, you may continue to be at risk. When your computer or device advises you to update software, don't put it off. Older versions of programs, including your browser, make it easier for hackers to get hold of your personal information. If your machine doesn't do automatic updates, set a reminder in your phone to check on software updates every few weeks. This advice goes for your blog as well. Update your software and plugins regularly.

Pay attention to login sessions

Facebook and Gmail allow you to see all of your active login sessions. If you check and you find a login in another region or from an IP address you don't recognize, change your password and notify the administrator. Go ahead and change all of your passwords if you notice suspicious activity on your account. It's no fun, but it's far easier than dealing with the aftermath of having malicious software take over your online accounts. When you set up a security question, don't ask anything obvious or anything someone can find out with some quick searching online.

Think before you click

On Twitter, a common source of hacking preys on our natural interest in what people are saying about us. Don't fall for phrases like, "I can't believe what they're saying about you here." If a friend DMs you with a link, ignore it. Even if it's your mother, ignore it. Contact the person outside of Twitter if you must know if the link is real. The same goes for Facebook and your email account. Delete suspicious emails and messages and never click on the links or download any attachments. If you receive an email from your bank or a website you have an account with and you're not sure if it's authentic, don't be afraid to give them a call and check up on it.

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