It’s no secret by now that our online data is routinely bought, sold and even stolen. What’s less known though is what it actually happens with your information once hackers get their hands on it.

The most common reason cyber thieves will steal your data is for financial reasons. It can be either for taking out loans in your name, making purchases with your credit cards, or selling your personal information on dark web marketplaces to the highest bidder. Other than these reasons motivated by monetary gain, there are also hackers that might want to steal your data just to prove they can. The more known you are as a public person or the greater your company’s reputation, the more tempting it will be for online attackers to show that they defeated your security measures and break past your defenses.

Understanding what methods hackers use to access your personal information is important if you want to protect against their strategies. That’s why, in this article, we’ll look not only at the most common ways hackers can steal your data but also at the steps you need to take if you want to prevent a data breach and protect your online privacy.

1.Phishing

Phishing is a form of cybercrime in which hackers contact their targets by mail, phone or post, in an attempt to extract their personal information. The information they are after might be anything from login credentials, credit card information or passwords. Although hackers are constantly coming up with new phishing techniques, if you want to protect yourself or your company you should take into account the following:

  • Avoid spam emails by applying filters
  • Set your browser’s settings so that it only allows reliable websites to open up
  • Always contact the company personally before entering any sensitive details online
  • If you receive an email with a link, hover over the website’s URL first to make sure it’s legitimate

2. Malware

A malware is a malicious software used with the intent of stealing the data available on a  system. Major types of malwares are viruses, trojans, spyware and keyloggers. To keep yourself safe, use legitimate antivirus software, never click on fake antivirus pop-ups that are generated from websites, keep your operating system updated and never download pirated apps or software.

3. Malicious Apps

What is a malicious app? It’s an app which may contain malicious codes that can put your privacy at risk. Although choosing among the multitude of apps available now for both mobile and notebook uses, there are few methods which can offer a little more security. For example, it’s advisable that before you download a new app you check the ratings and the reviews and avoid downloading an app if it has less than 50,000 downloads. Also, do not download apps from third party app stores.

4. Password Hacking

Weak passwords are among the most used ways hackers access your network and steal your personal information. The way cybercriminals break your passwords is by stalking you on social media to find information commonly used in passwords such as your pet’s name, or your birthday. To protect your identity online, choose passwords that are harder to guess and write them down somewhere safe where nobody can find them. Also, try to not use the same password for all websites or social media accounts in case one of them gets compromised.

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