Cybersecurity – How to protect yourself from malware and other malicious programs
Cybersecurity, especially now that all our personal information is held on these devices, is more important than ever before. Our banking information, our passwords, even our identities are attached to these devices now and we need to do everything we can to secure them. We can’t expect our phones, laptops, desktops, nor even gaming consoles to be secure and bulletproof- but there are many steps you can take to protect yourself.
What can happen if I’m compromised?
TL;DR There’s no limit to what can happen if you’re compromised. Your car can even get hacked nowadays.
I’m sure we’ve all had an experience with being hacked or having some of our information leaked- whether it’s a Facebook data leak or even a small mom and pop shop you gave your email to get coupons- there’s no way to be sure who has been compromised. A hacker who gets access to a company’s emails may also use it to extract your email address and passwords you used on their website. That’s just one example, but there are tens of thousands of ways to lose your network security and become yet another victim. Computer and network security should be ingrained in anyone’s mind who has any electronic- have it be an iPhone or a PlayStation- and we should all know the risks.
Adware is the most common form of attack now. You see it every day, and you’ve probably wondered why you saw that ad for a new bike when you and your friend were just talking about buying one a moment prior. It always seems just too coincidental. Let me share with you the knowledge that YOU and EVERYONE you know has their own advertising IDs linked with their personal information. If you’ve ever made a Facebook account and attached any information about yourself, you can be more than confident that information is being sold off. Our data is the most valuable thing that nearly every company wants to collect from us. It’s used to make specific ads for you so you’re more likely to come across ads relevant to you. It isn’t always a bad thing- but it can certainly turn into worse. Adware is software that maliciously advertises to you- hence the name- and it’s everywhere. From a mobile game off the App Store being riddled with ads to programs that displays ads all over your screen making the device not usable or sluggish, there’s truly near infinite ways adware can infect and affect your system. There’s numerous ways to protect yourself, and in this article we are going to discuss different antivirus and antimalware programs and what you should use for your system.
Spyware is by far one of the most frightening and dangerous methods hackers use to obtain information. I’m sure we’ve all heard the stories of your webcam being hacked, worried if the cameras facing you are being watched by someone else, and the terrifying truth it’s more common than most people believe. The most common form of spyware is keyloggers, where malicious users will have access to see everything you’ve ever typed- whether it be bank passwords or your social security number or even messages between friends. This information can be used for anything- from setting up fraudulent accounts to blackmail- and should be taken with the utmost precautions. The Black Hat hackers gather this information from dozens, if not thousands of people at a time and resell it on the black market and deep web. Devices with spyware may even become blacklisted depending on numerous factors, which is a precaution taken by companies to prevent your system from infecting others. This is commonly referred to as a Botnet, where infected user’s computers are used to infect others around them. It could range from sending emails to all your contacts, to laying dormant on your machine while waiting for it to be connected to others. Spyware is also one of the most difficult attacks to remove when they happen, but thankfully it’s easy to prevent.
How can I protect myself?
So, by now you’re probably saying to yourself “ Black Hat hackers? Botnets? Blacklists? I may as well just throw out my device!”
BUT HOLD UP!
There are numerous antivirus programs out there that do their job, and do it well. There’s vpns (Short for Virtual Private Network) to mask your online identity, and make you gain your confidence back when you’re connected.
Malwarebytes is an anti-malware program that has web security built right in, and is the program that’s trusted the most. It has a free trial option for 2 weeks which doesn’t require you to purchase to keep using after- a huge plus! There’s tutorials built into the app to guide you on how to scan your system for current infections and how to automatically scan for potentially unwanted programs (or PUPs) and quarantine and remove them from your system.
TunnelBear VPN is one of the most user-friendly VPN services available today. It takes little to set up, and skews your Internet Protocol (IP) address to make it nearly impossible to track you. A VPN, for example, can make it appear you’re in a different area to those tracking you and looking for a way to enter your system. VPN services only recently started to gain attention and are surely the protection of the future, and the technology is only going to improve.
We only covered a couple programs to use to protect yourself, but there are hundreds more out there that you can research into as well. These are tried and true, and recommended by many to be some of the best ways to protect yourself. You don’t need to be afraid of using the internet or shopping online- just stay weary and stay away from things you don’t trust. If anything doesn’t seem right with your system it is certainly worth taking the steps to research and resolve your issues. It’s more important than ever to protect your virtual footprint and to cover your tracks so that you’re not followed and watched. If you remember there’s people looking for what you’re putting online, you can remember how to protect yourself and stay safe.
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