That moment when you discover a cyber criminal has infiltrated your accounts, leaked private information, and accessed your most critical files is horrifying to say the least. Since we rely so heavily on our digital accounts, there is no shortage of damage that can be done once the wrong person gets a hold of our personal data.

While we would all love to send these perpetrators where they belong, unfortunately they are often far too clever to fall into our grasp. As a result, our only option is protection-and we don't mean just your stronger password.

Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to ensure your most important files get the top-notch security they need-so you can rest assured that your private information will always be yours, and yours alone.

Choose the right antivirus

While this may seem basic, the importance of a highly functional, modern antivirus cannot be stressed enough. Not only do you need one that scans your computer files for viruses, but you also need one that automatically stops infiltrated sites from loading and installing malicious software onto your computer.

The fact is, while we may think that only shady websites have viruses and other vicious malware, hackers are becoming increasingly capable and embedding them into legitimate websites that we use everyday. As a result, sites we may have always counted on as being 'safe' may not be.

"Hackers now have easy access to tools like exploit kits, which they can embed into legitimate sites and just by our visiting those sites, we can get infected. This just underlines the need for increased protection that we may not yet be used to having," said Uri Brison, CEO of LogDog, provider of an anti-hacking tool for mobile.

So, choose an antivirus that is smarter than the hackers. Make sure it features a system that scans all websites before they load so you know for a fact that every site you visit is actually safe to use.

Keep your computer current

Let's face it: the only people smart enough to combat coders are other coders. That's why the experts at Windows are constantly updating your system in order to make your computer resistant to the latest threats. It's up to you to check your computer and make sure it is updated accordingly. While it may be frustrating to stop everything and restart for updates, the results are well worth it.

Get antispyware software

Similar to viruses, spyware can be embedded into the sites we visit in order to obtain information on buying habits, passwords, and other personal details. In order to protect yourself, download a reliable antispyware product, preferably one that will thoroughly scan through all of your files. If you have trouble discovering the right fit, here are some great suggestions.

Use strong and secure passwords

If you're still using your middle name and birthday as your password for your email, website, and other key accounts, now is the time to stop and get creative. First of all, the same password should never be used for multiple sites for obvious reasons: if it's leaked once, all your accounts are instantly compromised. Instead, create a complex password with at least 8 characters. Use a variety of letters (both upper- and lower-case), numbers, and symbols (such as #!%) to give your password greater strength. If you fear that you will have trouble remembering unique passwords for multiple accounts, use a secure password manager such as LastPass or PasswordBox.

Stop using Javascript

Many of the most harmful hacks (especially the ones involving malware that is embedded in commonly used websites) are formulated using Javascript. While Javascript is used quite a bit in general, if you have particularly sensitive information it may be worth it to ban Javascript altogether in order to ensure that there's no possible way for hackers to get their hands on it.

If you use Firefox, NoScript is a great add-on to block Javascript. If you use Chrome, try ScriptSafe to keep yourself extra safe.

Back up your data

Computer crashes happen. When all else fails, you will be happy to know that your critical files aren't lost forever. So make sure to back them up by downloading them onto an external hard drive or storing them in a protected Cloud service. These are well worth the relatively inexpensive cost.

Nowadays, our accounts are basically our entire world. As a result, it is no surprise hacking is of such grave concern. While being hacked may be one of our biggest nightmares, due to increased insights into the phenomena, we are coming up with better solutions to ensure this ordeal never comes into fruition. Hackers may be clever, but thankfully, more and more security tricks are available to help us secure and control our digital lives and maintain our sanity. By following these tips, we can get one step closer to saving our most vital data be truly secure

Published on: Jun 18, 2015