Leave it to a global malware scare to remind everyone that we are not as secure as we think we are. As digital entrepreneurs, our life blood is our online presence and having access to all of our platforms. It is imperative to take steps to prevent getting hacked online.

On a regular basis there is an article or news report about internet security and how we need to take it seriously. Despite these warnings we fall into bad habits – e.g. using the same password over and over. We develop this false sense of security and believe it won’t happen to us.

But stop for a moment – maybe you have been “hacked”

Do you know someone who has had their debit or credit cards numbers stolen? Do you know someone who has had their phone or computer stolen? Do you know someone who has had their house or car broken into? Do you know anyone who has been a victim of a company server hack? Maybe you’ve had one or more of these happen to you.

Over the course of my life so far, I’ve had a debit or credit card number stolen four times, had my house broken into once, and have been a victim of a server hack five times. With the cards, the thieves got away with about $4000. In the burglary of my house, my computer was stolen. As for the server hacks, none of the companies fully revealed exactly what information was stolen but made me nervous enough to suspend my credit.

In all of these instances, I have been miraculously lucky. The banks refunded all of the money each time. My computer was recovered unscathed. As for the server hacks, no one (so far) has posed as me trying to open extra lines of credit. But with each of these occurrences, I’ve taken additional steps to increase my personal security. Here are the four things I recommend you do to secure your online safety.

Recommendations for increased security

1. Use a password manager

With a password manager, you store all of your passwords in one place plus it can create ultra strong passwords. When you change or update a password the system will automatically update its record. Typically you install a plugin on your browser and then only need to log into the manager account. Several free and paid options are available. I use LastPass. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I no longer need to keep a file on my computer or a paper list in my purse of all of my passwords.

2. Install a security plugin onto your website platform

This type of plugin adds extra security layers to your website such as firewalls, login scrabblers, captcha, etc. I use WordPress and have the Wordfence plugin installed. With most websites there is a default login page regardless of account holder. Hackers use this feature to try to break into websites. Most entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t have the resources for a full IT department. As a result, are typically vulnerable to hacks; particularly if they use weak passwords.

3. Apply all system updates for all devices

Most computer/website viruses and hacks manifest because individuals don’t keep their systems up-to-date. I know so many people who ignore the update announcements because it is too much of a hassle or they don’t have time. Doing a five minute update by far is a minimal inconvenience compared to the consequences of not updating.

4. Back up your computer(s) daily

Getting my computer stolen reinforced this mantra — backup, backup, backup. Something I learned during my early days of using computers but didn’t always follow. Before the burglary, I was pretty lax in backing up. On the day my computer was stolen, it had been 2 or more months since my last backup. I was sick to my stomach thinking about all of the content and hours of work that was just gone. Content I would never be able to rebuild or replicate. The easiest way to ensure you are backing up daily is to automate the process and use a cloud-based service. A cloud-based service advantage is that if your computer gets lost or stolen or just quits working you can be up and running again almost immediately once you replace the computer.

Learn more about securing your online presence

Besides these four steps, there is so much more a person can do to secure their digital lives. I recommend the book, Hack Proof Your Life Now! by Sean M. Bailey and Devin Kropp. In this book, you can measure your Cybersecurity Score and learn clear, actionable steps and strategies that will help you protect yourself. Learn more at GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32309350-hack-proof-your-life-now-the-new-cybersecurity-rules

Do you have a story of getting hacked? Or have another tip for ensuring your online security? Share with the community in the comments below.