Hacking right now seems as popular as the Harlem Shake. We don’t have anything against the Harlem shake – if you actually know how to do it, that is. When it comes to being hacked: What does it mean? Who’s susceptible? Should you care?

What it Means…

If you Google the definition of hack, you get: 1. Cut with rough or heavy blows and 2. Ride a horse for pleasure or exercise. Neither of these is what we’re talking about. What we are talking about, obviously, is online hacking. Your website can be hacked. Your email can be hacked. Your social media can be hacked. It essentially means that someone got past your tricky password (which is likely your pet’s name and the year you were born or your favorite number,) and gained access into the “back end” of your site, email or profile.

Some hackers work alone, and some in groups, to get into websites and even (as sort of a trophy,) replace your home page with some sort of image that lets you know they were there. We’ve all gotten the emails from friends urging us to check out this amazing website with the curiously long URL. Using code, these hacks are generally designed to redirect people to a site on which their personal information can be tracked.

When hackers attempt to get into social media sites like Facebook and Twitter it’s not because they want to see all of the pictures of your dog, it’s mainly because of the same reason as those annoying email hackers. They want your personal information including email address, bank information, etc.

Who’s Susceptible…

Jeep and Burger King have both recently been victim of Twitter hacks (and MTV pretended to be.) Burger King’s Twitter account was taken over Monday, February 18 and Jeep’s account was hacked on Tuesday. In both of these instances, the hackers declared the brand purchased by a competitor. While some hacks can be harmful, when those behind it are on a mission to gain personal information, sometimes it’s more of a challenge – come on, wouldn’t it be fun to be Burger King for a day? Free fries for everyone!

If you have any information online including an email address, you are susceptible to this. However, with safety precautions you dramatically decrease your chances. According to an article on CNN.com, “the reward is greater than the risk,” when it comes to social media. “It would be hard for brands to ignore Twitter, because it’s a space full of potential customers.”

While being “hacked” might seem pretty scary, it’s by no means a reason to shut down all of your online activity and run for the hills.

But You Should Care a Little…

While these risks have always been involved in being online, it is news now that more people are online and more people can be vocal about it through social media. That doesn’t mean you cross your fingers and hope for the best. You should pay a little attention to this and use some precautions.

Never open anything you’re unsure of that comes to your inbox.

Never click on anything that’s sent to you in an email, private message on Facebook or Twitter, or website link that you’re unsure of.

Use a different password for each log-in you have, and use longer passwords with special characters.

Check the strength of your password on HowSecureIsMyPassword.net

Always log out when you’re finished.

Good luck out there, folks.