Former hacker's cybersecurity advice for you
NEW YORK (FOX 5 NEWS) - Fox 5 went inside the mind of Kevin Mitnick, who is known as "The World's Greatest Hacker," to get his thoughts on how you can best protect yourself from cyber-attacks.
Unfortunately for Mitnick, as his skills evolved the feds failed to find the humor in his exploits: particularly his habit of poking around in the computer systems of some of the world's biggest companies.
He says he was hacker for the intellectual curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge. He says he never did it for money and never tried to hurt anyone with malware. But he acknowledges that he broke the law, and he went to federal prison for five years. His 1995 conviction cemented his reputation as "The World's Greatest Hacker."
Now as the head of Mitnick Security, he uses those skills to help keep major corporations safe from cybercrimes. In his new book, "The Art of Invisibility," he shares tips to keep your data out of sight of Big Brother.
As the arrest of two Russian intelligence agents in connection with the 2014 hack of 500 million Yahoo email accounts illustrates, many of the battles of the 21st Century are being waged in cyberspace.
As Hillary Clinton's Campaign chair John Podesta found out, when his emails were hacked and then leaked to devastating effect throughout the campaign, it only takes clicking on one bad link to unleash all sorts of havoc in your personal and professional life.
Mitnick says that a 14-year-old could have pulled off that hack. And a 14-year-old also could have easily prevented it. By simply enabling two-factor authentication, which sends a code to a trusted device to verify it is indeed you logging into your account, the whole mess could have been avoided.
Mitnick says you should not assume that your email is private.
After NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed the extent of the government's ability to snoop on our every electronic utterance, Mitnick says ignorance is no longer an option.
The good news is that you can take certain steps to make your communications more secure. Some are decidedly low-tech, like how to make sure no one is using your computer's webcam to eavesdrop on you: put a piece of tape over the lens.
Also, make sure you know good and well exactly how the so-called the cloud works before syncing your Apple accounts up with a significant other.
Also, don't do anything private on a work computer. Your employer can, and most likely is, monitoring all your communications.
Avoid public Wi-Fi. And if you have to use public Wi-Fi, be sure to subscribe to a VPN, a virtual private network. This shields your internet communications from everyone including your internet service provider.
Use a password manager. This will ensure you avoid one of the biggest pitfalls many people encounter, which is getting lazy and using the same passwords on multiple sites.
And one last tip from Mitnick. Password protect your cell phone. And if for some reason you think it has been compromised, back it up and reinstall the phone's firmware to get rid of any potential keylogging or other unwanted surveillance programs.
Mitnick says these are all lessons you don't want to have to learn the hard way.