How to defend smartphones and computers from viruses and malware

Securing your personal data from hackers and attackers is possible: the important thing is to follow some simple rules

The number of hacker attacks is growing dramatically: the goal is always the same, to get hold of user data. The latest attack was against the Department of Public Administration in Italy: a hacker stole more than 4,500 access keys used by municipalities.

But Italy is not the only country in the crosshairs of hackers. A month ago, a DDoS attack blocked Internet access in much of the United States, and the same happened in Germany. Hackers are increasing their reach and also the intensity of their actions: in addition to classic attacks that try to install viruses and Trojans inside users' computers, hackers have specialized in ransomware attacks, also known as "blackmail malware". This virus blocks access to the computer and the hacker demands a fee to unlock it.

The danger is always around the corner

At the expense are mainly small and medium-sized businesses that do not have the capabilities to protect their devices: the latest case involved the San Francisco subway that saw more than 2000 computers hacked. The hackers demanded a "ransom" of 100 bitcoins, about $73,000. Victims are usually small companies or individuals with little experience in computer security: hackers exploit their weaknesses to get hold of users' personal data and make money out of it.

Although it seems impossible to stop a hacker, it's not really so. It only takes a few small tricks to make the life of hackers much more difficult and complex. And you don't have to be a computer expert to put them in place, even a user with little familiarity with computers will be able to defend their privacy online. Here's a simple beginner's guide to protecting your personal data from being attacked by crackers.