Q953: What is computer hacking and how can I prevent it?
Computer hacking is where people gain unauthorised access to
information that is held on a computer. This can range from guessing someone's
password to a 'global cyber security threat known as a 'ransomware attack.'
Ransomware can take two forms - it will either encrypt the files
on a computer or lock a user's screen. In both cases the user will need a key in
order to use the computer again. Of course the hacker will require payment for
this, the amount demanded will vary and there is no guarantee the key will be
You can minimise the risk of being infected by ransomware by
taking the same precautions necessary to guard against malware in general. You
should have good access control by keeping an eye on permissions used on shared
computers and have a back up of your data.
Below is a list of do's and don'ts when picking a password - remember the harder it is to guess, the less likely you are to be hacked.
Don't reuse an old password
Use a different password for each website
Don't use dictionary words
Avoid dates of birth and other personal information that can be found online
Avoid patterns such as '1234', 'ABCDE '
Mix lower and upper case letters, and symbols
Make sure you have installed the latest security updates and
Do not set your browser to remember your password
If you have been the victim of this or any other form of computer hacking, there are a number of organisations you can contact. Please see the websites in related information for further guidance.