I’m the hacker who took down the internet – here are 5 key tips to avoid scams & keep your family safe online

A WORLD-LEADING former hacker turned cyber security expert has revealed his five top tips to be safe online.

Michael Calce almost broke the internet when he was just a teenger – taking down a slew of the world’s biggest websites in the year 2000.

Michael knows the dangers of the web and how to help protect yourself

The internet ‘scares the daylights out of me’ says Calce[/caption]

He was an online menace known by his moniker “MafiaBoy” – and it was a stunt that landed him in prison.

But now he’s turned his skills to defending the web from the next generation of hackers like him.

Aged just 15, his cyberattacks against the giants of the web, including Yahoo!, CNN, Amazon, and eBay led to widespread pandemonium in the US.

And oddly, thanks to his massive attack the world was introduced to entire new frontier of crime as he exposed just how easy it was to wreak havoc.

Now, the world knows all about cybercrime but is desperately struggling to tackle it – with the sector being huge business for crooks.

Neustar’s 2022 Cyber Threats and Trends report predicts that by 2025 – cybercrime will have an annual worth of £8.5trillion.

“We are more isolated, and vulnerable than ever – everything is connected to the internet and inexperienced people are forced to use devices with no training,” Michael told The Sun Online.

The average internet user is burdened with spam, worms and viruses and exposed to all kinds of online fraud, identity theft, extortion and other serious crimes on a daily basis.

So, regardless of your tech savviness, the reformed hacker tells The Sun Online there are a number of ways that you help to protect yourself from online threats.

1. Learn for yourself

“I think the first step is educating yourself,” Calce told The Sun Online.

“Just imagine that people are on devices six to eight hours a day, you can spare an hour and read about things like what are the latest threats?

“What are hackers targeting? How do I protect myself?” 

It might sound tedious, but the information is out there – waiting to be read.

Calce pleads: “A lot of the time, individuals are saying: ‘Well, I’m not a target’.

“And, I’ve got bad news for you, you are a target. Everyone is a target.”

Everyone and their data is of value – whether that’s for money scams, data sharing, identity theft or other threats – each internet user is worth something to someone.

2. Always keep everything updated 

This, Calce explains, is critical – keep everything from software to applications or apps constantly updated. 

“Tech companies created this update for you to better serve and protect you,” he says. The updates are there to improve user experiences and aesthetics, but more crucially they exist to repair critical patches based on found vulnerabilities.

If you ignore the updates, you might be “running a predecessor version that is susceptible to known attacks”.

Each update is likely to provide more and more security and protection to any vulnerabilities in their software – so update as soon as possible.

3. Leave less digital footprints 

The Montreal-based cybersecurity expert recommends using a firewall (preferably a two-way firewall). This works to basically block potential annoyances or threats.

These tech devices, which can be downloaded, are basically a barricade that filters and monitors network traffic coming your way.

Lots of companies rely on these, yet Calce says individuals should be using them too.  “If it’s a two way firewall, you’re blocking incoming and outgoing traffic, it’s all being monitored, and you’ll be alerted if something is out of the ordinary.” 

Better yet, he encourages using a VPN (virtual private network) on top of a firewall. This works to disguise your online identity or digital doings through methods such as hiding your location and protecting your data from external access.

“The less footprints you’re leaving around the better,” Calce says.

4. Buy devices that have security built in

This is a clear no-brainer for the computer whizz and he’s amazed people don’t do this more. 

Calce served as chairman of HP’s Security Advisory Board for over five years and so knows a thing or two about this. Companies, he says, have invested billions into cybersecurity software that will protect you from online threats – so use them.

These built-in security applications are “automatically checking all the time and protecting you.”

5. Look up all the easy fixes your gadget has 

The former hacker encourages users to utilise easy fixes available to them. “There’s many layers to security,” he says. 

It can be as simple as pressing a button to put a privacy filter on. “So for anyone viewing the screen from any angle, except directly on, the screen is blacked out.”

Your gadgets are incredibly clever, so always keep on top of what’s available for you to use with a simple click of a button.

Calce’s basic message is that people can stay safe and secure online without having to be a computer prodigy, but staying clued up and making some simple changes is essential.

Know the risks, he says, and act to minimise them.

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