The internet is filled with false connexions, malware, and ransomware. Data leaks are getting increasingly common, and unsuspected consumers are more susceptible than ever before. A single click could cost you millions of dollars, and sometimes even billions. Consumers need good to-do’s that will help them remain informed and safe digitally.
There is no one way to stay safe. You need to follow a series of tips that would help you everywhere. This is why; we bring the ultimate guide for you to protect yourself from viruses, ransomware, malware, and hackers.
These tips are the essential cybersecurity tips that you must follow regardless of your purpose of using a computer.
- Pay attention to software upgrades.
Most devices and systems come equipped with software that requires to be updated from time to time to make it work in its best state possible. There are numerous smart devices that are used at home like routers, computers, phones, and AI speakers like Google Home, HomePod, and Alexa that runs your thermostat, garage doors, outlets, and bulbs.
Luckily for you, manufacturers send update notifications that would keep your devices running smoothly and stay current. Although it could be a bit of trouble for you to stay updated, it works in your favor. However, it should be noted that there are a lot of security updates that come in newer versions of the software, and therefore, you must not forget to upgrade your device.
Although most smart devices are smart enough to update on their own, you must stay alert and keep yourself updated on the updates.
- Never download files from unknown people.
Do you know the negligence of employees alone causes 47% of data breaches? In the end, Humans are the ultimate line of defense in protecting themselves from cybercriminals. A lot many times, there are common people with bad intentions who can forward emails, documents, links, and other attachments with viruses. The most convenient way to send it across for the hackers would be- emails. It could be in a lottery win message, movie or file download, or a website link. If you are unaware of the sender’s identity, delete the mail right away or move it to junk/spam mail. That being said if you think you know the person, but the mail seems suspicious, cross-check before opening the attachment; their account might be hacked.
- Always use antivirus software.
Among the most essential tips to start with, to save your system from malware, ransomware, and viruses, is to install antivirus software on your computer. Technology is advanced as these days, and systems come equipped with antivirus software. There is a big misconception among Mac users, who believe that their systems are safe from viruses; they should know that their systems can host this malware. This could lead to the spread of the virus to other systems. For instance, you use a USB device on your windows at your workplace from your personal Mac with malware, thinking it is safe; you are infecting the entire work network system.
Although Mac or Linux users need to install it (yes, they do), windows come with Windows defender. In case you need to install antivirus software, you can find many free ones over the internet. Again, make sure you download it from a verified website.
- Never use the same passwords.
When it comes to passwords, people choose the things that are relevant to them, something that makes them. Otherwise, they forget it. Little do they know this is actually an easy way for hackers to access your network and system. The simpler and accessible the password, the higher the risk. Another mistake people very often commit is the usage of the same passwords for all their accounts. It is convenient for them to memorize one password. Let us break it to you; it is convenient for the hackers as well. You have one password for all your social media accounts, emails, and online banking account. How risky could that be? It would take you forever to get a hold of your accounts, but the damage would have already been done.
The best tip for this note would be to use a password manager. You would only require (and remember) one strong password, and you are good to go. Your passwords can be stored here. You could enable 2FA (two-factor authentication) or MFA (multi-factor authentication).
Connecting to the Internet
One should always be careful while connecting to the internet, especially when the computer or the network you are using is a public one.
- Use VPN
VPNs are highly popular, and maybe not for the reasons it was first created. They were first developed to connect businesses over the globe securely.
It enables a secure connection to the XYZ network over the World Wide Web. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network, is mostly used to get access to region-restriction sites. This secures your browsing activity from public Wi-Fi.
- Delete the downloaded files on public computers
It is imperative that you delete whatever you download on public computers. Please note that your deleted files get transferred to the Trash (Mac) and Recycle Bin (Windows) when you first delete them. Make sure to delete them permanently.
- To permanently delete a file on Windows, select the document or file and press shift + delete.
- To permanently delete a file on Mac, select the document or file and press option + command + delete.
The dialog box would always ask you to confirm you before deleting a file permanently. Even if you delete them through the standard process, make sure you clear the recycle bin or trash before you log out. Speaking of logging out, always log out of all your accounts on a public computer.
You are highly mistaken if you think you do not need to pay attention to cybersecurity threats during traveling. On the contrary, it is of utmost importance that you take the necessary steps to avoid malware in your system.
- Rely on trusted networks only
the most trusted network is your own, that would be your international roaming data plan from your service provider. This lessens the risks of spying. However, you need not worry about it if you use a VPN. Although you must be careful while typing confidential details in public.
- Avoid Online Banking
This should be a top priority among all tourists and corporate flyers. As scary as it sounds, the more you use your credit cards, the higher the risk of online frauds. The only way to avoid it is to keep enough cash with you, and in case you need more money, trust only the official, verified banking/government firms to help you.
Another one of the massive cybersecurity mistakes that a person commits unknowingly is to believe that their system is safe with a home network. There is a huge misconception among common people that only big corporations, organizations, big shot entrepreneurs, celebrities, and CEOs become victims of cybersecurity attacks. Stealing sensitive information and blackmailing can happen to anyone.
- Look out for IoT device updates.
Having Home Pod, Google Home, and Alexa, etc. installed at home is the new normal. However, these systems require permission from your smart device to access your router. In case your device is infected, there are chances of information theft.
- Don’t forget to upgrade your router’s software.
All your smart devices need to be upgraded to operate effectively. Your routers are no different. They need to be upgraded for advanced security and protection. A lot of people have their security cameras and speakers connected to a router, if a hacker gets easy access to your router, the chances are that your home footage can be leaked over the internet, or you can be blackmailed for the same. This is backed by research, which proves that 83% of routers contain open-source vulnerabilities. Although the manufacturer would always notify you once the new update is available, you must also check for any updates by yourself.
- Make way for strong passwords.
We cannot stress enough on strong passwords when it comes to a secured account. You are highly mistaken if you believe that “PASSWORD” or “0000” or your birth date are strong passwords. They are the worst passwords you could use. Why do people use such passwords? The reason behind it is because people think they are at home and they got nothing to worry about.
Go for unique, complex passwords; make sure it has upper case, lower case, numbers, and symbols. Use a password manager to save your passwords.
With a growth rate of 30%, online shopping fraud rates grew twice as fast as e-commerce sales in 2017. You must be all the more cautious while shopping online.
- Look out for the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) icon.
Always check the top left of the web address tab, there is a little lock icon. It is the SSL icon. This helps you by encrypting your sensitive and valuable information like your address, credit card information, etc. This way, you know the website is verified, and there is nothing you should be alarmed about.
- Purchase from trusted websites only.
Here comes some information, there are chances that you could still be duped. Even with the SSL installed, the website could still steal your information. The website may not misuse your data, but the person behind the brand might not protect and respect your privacy and may use it against you. This is why you must always buy from versified sites.
It is the most commonly used way of communication globally. It is also the most common source of viruses, malware, and scams.
- Ignore suspicious links
A lot many times, people receive emails with a request to click on a link that asks for your username and password. As unbelievable as it sounds, people fall for it and get tricked. Remember, nobody would ever ask for your log in information and sensitive credentials unless discussed before. Ignore such emails or report them.
- Look out for financial scams.
This is the most common way of stealing your information. A suspicious mail is sent to you, asking you to wire some money to an account. It could start with a sob story or a stolen case study from an NGO. Please do not fall for it, and delete it right away.
When it comes to cybersecurity, the tips mentioned above are everything you need, wherever you are, regardless of your purpose of using a particular system or network. The biggest mistake you could make is underestimating the vicious world of hacking. Stay updated, alert, and informed. It would help you protect your personal and professional systems and networks. Follow the tips and decrease the chances of cybersecurity threats and risks affecting your life.
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