5 Smart Ways to Avoid the Horror of Hackers



Hackers love to use email to gather people’s private information, like usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, health records, and more. Follow these tips to protect your email account and avoid falling for scams.


Use a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! password. Hackers use super-high-tech software to guess your passwords. To thwart them, you need to choose a long password that includes symbols.

Maybe not as long as Mary Poppins’ favorite word, but at least eight to 10 letters. And make it as random as possible. Stringing together your children’s names or birth months may be easier to crack than you think.


Never reuse a password. Hackers grab usernames and passwords from online services all the time. The hackers then add these pass- words to the dictionaries of password-guessing software. If you use the same username and password for several accounts, you’re more vulnerable to being hacked.


Don’t save your email password in your browser. Browser- based password tools aren’t very secure. They can also make it easy for someone who has physical access to your computer to access your email.

Instead of saving your email password in your browser, use a password manager instead. Two popular password-manager programs are LastPass (lastpass.com) and 1Password (1Password.com).


Check whether an email link is safe. Before you click a link in your email, you can check whether it’s safe in less than a second. Simply hover your cursor over the link. In the lower left, you’ll see the website address that the link points to. If that website address looks suspicious, don’t click it. You can always contact the sender first to make sure they sent the link.


Add an extra layer of security. Two-factor authentication adds an extra step before you can change your password, which makes it harder for hackers to take over your email account. You can choose to receive a code via text message, phone call, or a special app.

With two-factor authentication turned on, the hacker would need your email login information and access to your phone to success- fully reset your email password.

For step-by-step instructions on setting up this extra security measure, flip to page 74 in Explaining Computers in Plain English for Seniors: Secrets to Understanding Online Security, the Cloud, Apps, Streaming, Google®, and More.




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  • FC&A Staff Writer