HOW TO NOT GET HACKED October 11, 2022 | Business Tips , Social Media | small business , Facebook In an increasingly digital age, new technologies make the jobs of small business owners easier and more streamlined. Of course, that also means that there are new ways for sensitive information to be stolen or brands to be compromised. From password safety to Facebook cloning, here are a few ways to become more secure online. Password Security Selecting a strong password is the first line of defense when looking to keep your information private and secure. With so many tips and tricks circulating the web on how to construct strong passwords, it is shocking to hear that the most commonly used password for 2022 is officially “123456.” Remember, modern hacking softwares search for these common terms first when attempting to break into an account. For some quick tips to make your passwords more resistant to hacking algorithms, always be sure to use a mixture of capitalized and lower-cased letters within your passwords, ideally with a healthy amount of numbers. Successfully incorporating an uncommon symbol (like “>”, “~”, etc.), when allowed, can make these rapid password-checking softwares nearly useless. Diversify your passwords and make them as strong as possible with these basic steps to protect your business from malicious attacks. Phishing A phishing scheme is an information-farming tactic, using an official-looking email containing a link to an outside website. After clicking this link, the website can force your computer to download a virus or other malware directly, giving a hacker direct access to all of your locally-stored information. The key to this technique is believability, and phishers have gotten better and better at finding trusted sources to impersonate while finding links that don’t set off any alarms. Many people fall for this trap every day, but there are ways to avoid falling victim. First, know how to recognize the red flags. Is the email using any of your specific information to address you? Your bank or streaming account will address you by your first name in the greeting, while phishing emails avoid these specifics. Some phishing attempts can be more obvious than others, so it may be worth downloading an anti-phishing toolbar to have some extra backup scanning through your links. Encryption Let’s say you fell for a phishing scheme, or your password has been compromised. Encrypting your most sensitive files is another layer of security that’s now easier than ever to utilize if you have a Windows Pro 10 or better. With encryption, you can scramble your information from the perspective of attackers so that only you have access. To encrypt your files, follow these quick steps: Select the file that you want to encrypt, right click it, and select “Properties.” Select the “Advanced” button near the Attributes section, and check the “Encrypt contents to secure data” box. Select “OK” to close the window, and select “Apply” on the properties window. From there, you can back up your encryption key as desired and save it on a USB, or external drive (as your computer will direct you). Encryption shouldn’t be necessary for most files on your computer, but for the most important information, this process could be a strong final defense. Facebook Cloning One process that isn’t exactly a “hack” has been replicated on many social media sites, but is most infamous on Facebook. A “Facebook Clone” is a profile that copies another user’s profile picture and scans their friends list to trick people into clicking on suspicious links or falling for scam websites (most commonly cryptocurrency sites). The reason why “Facebook cloning” is so prevalent is because scammers don’t even need access to an account to make a clone. All they need to do is copy the profile picture and start adding everyone from their public friends list so that they can “invite” them to some fraudulent website, or pass out malware viruses. These scams can be particularly harmful to businesses who try to uphold a brand of trustworthiness and professionalism. Being cloned isn’t fun, but there are a few things that you can do to combat this and even avoid it in the future. The best defense from cloning is to set your friends list to private. This is a simple step that dissuades scammers from targeting your account since they can’t find a reliable list that would easily accept the false account’s friend request. Follow these simple steps to customize your friends list settings on Facebook: In the upper right-hand corner, enter your account menu and select the “Settings & Privacy” option. Select the “Settings” options to enter into your General Account Settings, then select “Privacy” from the left-hand menu. Find the heading labeled “How people find and contact you.” Edit the “Who can see your friends list?” field, and change it from “Public” to either “Friends,” or another preferred secure option. Defending yourself against hackers can be demoralizing, but you don’t have to run your business alone! Visit NPI's website to learn more about why franchising might be the right move for your home inspection company.