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by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance

Tips to protect yourself from being hacked

Woman smiling at her computer in her living space

The word "hacking" is often associated with malicious activities or cybercrime when it comes to the world of cybersecurity. In this context, hacking involves using a set of tools and techniques against an individual or an organization's digital environment to gain access to something they shouldn't and ultimately illegally profit from it. This is an ongoing problem we hear about in the news every day.  


Here are the main categories of hacking and steps anyone can take to prevent hackers from being successful. Understanding what hackers can and will do is the first step to a safer cyber environment.  


Types of hacking and how to prevent them  


In the world of cybersecurity there are a multitude of ways to hack a system. It does not matter if you are one individual or an entire company, it is imperative to understand these types of hacking and how to prevent them from happening.  

Social Engineering 


Social engineering is how scammers manipulate a person into divulging personal information. These attacks often attempt to impersonate a business or government agency. Social engineering often creates a false sense of urgency or importance to have potential victims act quickly without giving the situation much thought. 


The best way to stay safe from social engineering is to be cautious and slow to give away personal information. Also, make sure that the person you provide information to is who they say they are. If you're unsure whether a person is who they claim, you should call them back at the published phone number listed on their website or through your saved contact details. 



Phishing uses email to entice a person to click a link, open an attachment or volunteer information that cybercriminals could use to attack. The primary goal of a phishing attack is typically to steal a username and password to a website or service the person uses. Then, hackers called access brokers would use the login information to spread phishing messages further or sell login information to other cybercriminals. 


Here are a few things to consider when reading an email that could save you from falling for a phishing attempt: 


  • Be cautious of emails that create a sense of urgency or importance with a request to act, such as clicking a link, opening an attachment or replying with information. 

  • Evaluate the sender's email address and look for grammar mistakes or wording that is not consistent with what you would expect from someone sending you an email.  

  • Read a link before using it to ensure the domain in the address matches what you'd expect. You can do this by hovering your mouse over the link if you're on a computer or pressing and holding down the link if using a smartphone.  

  • When in doubt, directly contact the individual or organization the message is from to ensure they sent it. 



Hackers use malicious software to gain a foothold on a person or company’s computer to install ransomware and/or use the computer for their purposes in a cyberattack.   


To stay safe from malware, you should: 


  1. Be cautious about installing free software, including free virtual private network (VPN) software that claims it will keep you safe online.  

  1. Use security features in your operating system to ensure the firewall, virus protection and internet security settings are enabled. 

  1. Keep your computer and devices up to date by enabling automatic updates for your operating system and applications. 

  1. Keep your essential documents safe by using trustworthy online file storage solutions. 

Password Attacks 


Cybercriminals highly desire passwords because they can be sold or used to extend their attack. Therefore, they will try to guess passwords on websites and online services by using easily guessable passwords or passwords that have been leaked to the Internet. 


Most people are not good at remembering complex passwords, so we tend to reuse them, and that's not good. Instead of remembering your passwords, use a password manager to create your password and store it. Your phone should have a password manager built-in, or you can use one such as the password manager provided by Google if you use Gmail or one of their online services.  


The best protection against password attacks is to enable multi-factor authentication on websites and online services you use. It is a small step that provides additional security to help prevent personal accounts from password attacks. 

Key takeaways 


  1. Stop using the same password on different websites and start using a password manager to create and store your passwords. 

  1. Enable multi-factor authentication on online services when possible. 

  1. Keep your computer and devices up to date by enabling automatic updates for your operating system and applications. 

  1. Be cautious when looking at emails with attachments or links, and don't click on links or download attachments unless you expect them. 

  1. Keep your essential documents safe by using trustworthy online file storage solutions. 

Cybersecurity is crucial in our technology-powered world. Follow these tips to protect yourself from hacking, cybercriminals, scams, viruses and more.  


In addition, if you are an Indiana Farm Bureau member, we provide you with free Identity Fraud Resolution Services powered by CyberScout™.