How not to get hacked: UNB cyber security prof shares her best tips

Cyber security expert Natalia Stakhanova says hackers are evolving to target people’s mobile phones in the same way they have with their computers, meaning people need to become more vigilant.

Natalia Stakhanova pens books after hearing many stories from people who fell for common traps

Could downloading a new app or responding to a text message lead to giving your personal information away?

One cyber security expert says hackers are evolving to target people's mobile phones in the same way they have with their computers.

This means people need to be more vigilant about what they're downloading and using on their phones, says Natalia Stakhanova, an assistant professor of computer science at the University of New Brunswick.

After hearing story after story about people's personal information getting hacked, Stakhanova decided to pen a book, titled Have you been hacked yet?, to help people avoid common pitfalls.

Stakhanova said it's now becoming more common for hackers to target people's mobile devices, which is making it more difficult to keep your information safe.

It's also now more common for hackers to target your financial information, rather than just infecting your computer with a nuisance virus, she said. 

Change passwords, be wary of unverified apps 

One of the most common mistakes people make is reusing passwords for multiple services, and making the passwords too simple, she said.

Stakhanova said it's best to choose something very random and hard to guess.

"We typically resort to something that's easy to remember," she said.

"If easy for us to remember, it's easy for hackers to guess as well."

It's also smart to use different passwords for each site, she said.

If one of your accounts is compromised, it essentially means all of your accounts could be compromised, she explained.

Another common way hackers will get to your information is through downloading apps from companies or developers you don't know, which basically gives a hacker carte blanche with your phone.

Overall, Stakhanova advises being vigilant with any information on your phone or other devices.

"Problems tend to stem from being very naive and trustful," she said.

"If it's too good to be true, it probably is."

Natalia Stakhanova is the author of Have You Been Hacked Yet?, a new book on cyber security and how we can better protect our information online while surfing the web at home and the local coffee shop. 7:41