Keeping hackers away: five ways to protect yourself

As technology grows, so does the potential dangers of security to your home.

KFOX14’s Tomas Hoppough found out how much your life, and your identity is at risk without hacker proofing your home.

It’s something a lot of people have heard of but never thought it could actually happen to them. The average person isn’t usually prepared for that.

Around 73 percent of Americans fall victim to cyber-crime. It’s happened in the borderland, from the city to school districts getting hacked.

So what’s stopping it from happening to you?

Meet Nichole Villalobos, the average homeowner and technology user. KFOX14 wanted to know what she knows about hacking.

“Well you hear those things,” Villalobos said. “My son has an XBOX 260 and we have the camera connected to it and there was that whole thing that they can see inside your house now. I mean how true is that? We just don’t know.”

KFOX14 asked Villalobos if she knows what to do in order to protect herself from getting hacked.

“If asked straight forward I would say that I don’t really know if I’m as hack-proof as I should be,” Villalobos said.

For that, KFOX14 went to the experts.

Luc Longpre is a professor of computer security at UTEP, and he knows all the tricks on how to not be hacked.

“You never know who could be hacking you, and usually it happens and you don’t even realize until it’s done,” Longpre said. “You don’t want people trying to hack into your network while you’re not there.”

Here are five simple steps that Longpre has in order to avoid becoming a victim of a cybercrime.

• Set strong passwords: Use passwords that are at least 12 characters long, have upper and lowercase letters, and contain symbols and numbers. Do this and it will most likely take more than a year for a malicious hacker to decrypt your new password. It could take a hacker 10 minutes to crack a password that is only six characters long.

• Protect your router: Make sure your router has a strong WPA2 password--not just the network password, but the actual router password as well. Hide your network from appearing in the network list. Your router is the gateway to your network and all devices connected to that network.

• Update software: When a notification appears to update software, do it right away. Avoid hitting "install and restart later.” This especially applies to your security software and router firmware.

• Disconnect devices when you’re gone: Unplugging the router is an important move if you go away on vacations. Longpre said that hackers are more likely to hack into your system if you’re gone. By unplugging your router when you leave, this almost guarantees no one can hack into your system.

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