We live in the age of cyberspace, and every day each of us is faced with the need to use information technology. The human online presence is boundless, starting from posting personal data on social networks, making online payments, and downloading new software. Thus, our smartphones and PCs contain a lot of information about us. And we become much more vulnerable to attackers online than in real life. Cybersecurity is one of the key aspects of life in the information era. All electronic information, services, and devices require protection and compliance with certain security rules. But users rarely use reliable anti-virus software or specialized solutions to protect against DDoS attacks and ignore security settings. What can be the outcome and how to avoid potential hazards?
What Is Cyber Threat?
Everyone must have met this term on social media. But what exactly does it mean? It is a malicious act that is aimed at data damaging and stealing or disrupting the smooth functioning of digital devices. One of the first known computer viruses was Elk Cloner spread in the wild in the early 1980s. But cyber threats do not remain static and become more sophisticated. Malware is often hidden in software that you install on your devices. And the likelihood of this risk increases if you download it not from a trusted source, but from the net. When installing new programs, it is important to be alerted by various warnings, especially if they want to access your personal data.
Types of Cyber Security Threats
Today there is a great variety of malicious programs that may unnoticeably pop in your computer and gadgets. The most common are the following ones:
Viruses are malware that joins another program and when it is launched (which usually happens through the user’s negligence), it begins to reproduce itself and modify other applications on the computer by implementing elements of its malicious code into them.
Worms are programs very similar to a virus. It is capable of self-replication and can lead to irreversible consequences for your system. However, the worms do not need to infect other files to reproduce. They crawl into a computer and send their copies to all your contacts.
Trojans, also known as Trojan horses, are one of the most dangerous hazards. They usually try to trick you by disguising as useful programs. After entering the system, attackers gain free access to the infected computer. Trojans pave the way for other malicious objects, such as viruses and ransomware.
Ransomware is a program that blocks your device and encrypts your files. It demands a ransom to get the system restored. Ransomware is considered a weapon of choice for cybercriminals because it enables them to make significant profits in cryptocurrencies that are difficult to trace. The ransomware code can be easily obtained from the black market, and it is never easy to defend against it.
Adware is a code that is included in the software to display advertisements without the user’s knowledge. Often such programs collect and forward personal information about the user to their developer, change various browser settings, and create uncontrolled traffic by the user. All of this can lead to both security policy violations and direct financial losses.
Spyware collects information about an individual user or organization without their knowledge. This malware records which keys users press getting personal data such as usernames, passwords, or credit card details.
Rootkits are able to hide hazards from anti-virus programs. They give attackers access to administration of the infected computer. They usually go unnoticed by the user, other programs, and the operating system itself.
Cryptojacking is a type of malware that is becoming more widespread. These objects are used for hidden cryptocurrency mining and are usually installed using a Trojan program. As a result, intruders can use the resources of your computer to mine cryptocurrencies.
Main Mistakes That Cause Data Leakage
Sometimes users themselves create fertile ground for cyber threats. We ignore and neglect to implement many basic security measures. The risk of catching malware increases in the following cases:
· A download of free software. Buy legal programs and register them. Free software often asks to install additional programs on your PC that may carry a serious threat.
· Untimely software updates. Make sure your software is up to date. Take time to install automatic updates for your system as they reduce the vulnerability of your system. It should be downloaded from trusted software vendors.
· Occasional downloads. Block pop-ups to prevent unwanted programs. The web browser you are using should be locked. This prevents potentially dangerous ads from being displayed on the screen. Google Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge have built-in blockers. Viruses often use the extensions .vbs, .shs, .exe, .scr, .chm, .bat. If the system asks to download or open such a file, cancel your previous actions.
· Opening potentially unsafe attachments and links. Do not click on links or open attachments received from unknown e-mail addresses. One of the most important sources of malware is emails from scammers. It can initiate fishing even from the Spam folder. Remove unwanted emails from strangers or companies, no matter how friendly they may look. Immediately close sites that open on your computer without your consent. Never follow any links as a single click can lead to malicious software being downloaded to your computer.
· Ignoring recommended security settings. There are some basic safety practices to follow to boost your device protection. Users often neglect them opening the way to attackers.
Steps on Protecting Your PC
Everybody can And there is a whole list of such solutions that will optimize the security level of your devices.
1. Create strong passwords
This is one of the key rules of cybersecurity. The password must consist of a complex combination of characters. Use a different password for each service and site and never share your passwords with anyone, keep them on paper, or enter them on third-party sites. Use other protection means where. For Windows, for example, you can activate Windows Hello technology which uses the face recognition method to log in. You can also use password managers such as KeePass.
2. Back up your system
This process ensures that all data is copied and stored in a separate place to avoid loss of information. If the original document is damaged, you can restore it from a copy stored in a safe place. OS developers give clear-cut instruction on how to do it:
You can also use special cloud storage.
3. Enable two-factor authentication
Most reputable online services support two-factor authentication. Enable it with a software token (available on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc.) or with a one-time password with SMS delivery.
4. Use VPN
Use a VPN to protect your network data from being stolen. Experts consider public Wi-Fi networks unsafe. When working with them, you should not enter access to passwords, logins, personal data. Use such an Internet connection only via a VPN.
5. Install antivirus software
Reputable antivirus programs will allow you to more carefully select and examine any software for its potential danger. Besides, the antivirus software will additionally ask for confirmation of the download decision and make comments on the security of file installation.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to entirely eliminate the risk. But implementing good safety practices helps significantly reduce it. It is not difficult and often free of charge to boost your security. Timely actions can prevent a lot of potential hazards. It would be the best approach to create a safety checklist covering the above-mentioned tips and check its compliance regularly.