Are you worried about hackers? I’ve studied computers. I’ve studied programming. I run my own server. I thought I knew about computers. I felt secure. I was wrong.
Hi welcome to the Les Perras podcast episode number 375. Today's episode is about hackers and online safety. Listen to some common sense advice about physical security with computers, and, more importantly, mental security. Then hear about the close call that I had on the internet.
Maybe the simplest and first thing you should do is make sure that you have a safe connection to the Internet. If you go to a coffee shop, it's best not to use their Wi-Fi. If you have to use their Wi-Fi first do a bit of research and learn about VPN. Then go out and purchase a subscription to a VPN. I won't tell you about VPN here but they can save you a lot of problems if you're browsing outside your home.
Almost everybody says to make good passwords. I have to agree here. The problem is everybody tells me they can't remember their passwords. Probably the simplest solution to that is to make your password. A short sentence. The sentence should have unusual words in it, make a picture in your mind, and have a number. An example would be "I like three chocolate hotdogs". The sentence is not too long, it has a number in it, and a strange combination of words which most people would not think of. At the same time it's easy to remember.
If you're using your computer for just browsing, then you probably don't have much to worry about. But if you are creating files on your computer, make sure you save your data and back it up regularly. A great place to back it up is on some kind of storage that is separate from your computer. Maybe it's a hard disk or a USB or even cloud storage but the USB is probably the best. Leaving files on your computer should be safe but you never know. So back them up and then erase them from your computer from time to time.
Be very very careful and wary of suspicious emails. If you don't know the person who sent you this email, why do you need to read it? Personally, I treat unsolicited emails as junk mail. And the junk mail I get in my real mailbox goes straight into the garbage. The unsolicited emails go straight into the garbage or spam.
This is where I had a problem. I got an email from a friend. At least I thought I got an email from a friend. I use Google mail and when I saw the mail it had my friend's name on it. Furthermore, it had my friend's photo attached as a little icon beside the email. I thought I was safe. My friend is kind of a strange person. I read the email and I thought this is a bit strange, but then again, my friend is a bit strange. Perhaps owing to my friend's eccentric personality I wasn't surprised when he was asking for help in terms of money. I did a little bit of checking in my email correspondence with him, and he was quite quick to reply. This is the second point that should've set off a red flag. He was asking for money and second he was responding very quickly. My problem was I wanted to please my friend. That's my weakness. I don't like saying no to a friend who needs a bit of help or assistance. Plus I saw his photo and his name on the email so it should be OK, right? Well after about six or seven email exchanges the red flag finally started flapping in my face. I then looked at the exact precise email address that he was sending the email from. This was a new and different address from my friend's regular email address. I sent an email to my friend on his regular email address rather than just responding. My friend indicated that he had not sent me any emails that day or that week. That was the instant I knew that I was dealing with a hacker. I simply stopped communicating. I am very happy to say I did not part with my money, and I did not get ripped off. But on the other hand, it was a very close call. Hackers might not hack into your computer. They will more likely hack into your psychology. They will push psychological, levers and buttons to make you act the way they want and get your money. Check all the information when you're dealing with any unusual activity or money related activity on the Internet. If you'd like more information about hackers, you can listen to my other podcast about hackers. It's podcast number 57.