Since the advent of the internet, there have been cases of cyber attacks being reported left right and center. As the technology advances, so do the techniques and tricks being used by these hackers. This essentially makes the internet seem like the scariest place to be in.
If you thought hacking only happens to the internet rookies, think again. Think about the hacking of Sony Pictures that took over the news in the recent past. In fact, at some point, the U.S. State Department had to contend with its public email system being shut down.
This are the tell-tale signs that all is not well for anyone online irrespective of your status. So what needs to be done to prevent the risk of dealing with the various types of Malware? Well, all is not lost as there are several steps you ought to take in order to reduce the chances of falling prey to these hackers.
Here are some tips that will come in handy in protecting you against cyber attacks:
1. Keep your passwords harder to decipher
If you have been online for some time, you would most likely have some personal accounts on certain websites that need you to secure your sign in with a username and password. In the past, creating a password was just as simple as a few letters or passwords. However, with the advent of new hacking techniques, it is now important that you create a strong password. The strength of a password, in this case, will mean including upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. It is recommended that you make it at least 8 characters in length and should not spell out words or numbers that are easy to guess like your name, birthday and such pointers.
2. Keep your browser history clear after use
Whether you are using a home or office computer, a friend’s iPad or your mobile phone, you are at risk of being targeted by a hacker courtesy of your browser’s history. Popular browsers like Chrome and Firefox do keep track of your browsing history and records what you have been doing online. This makes it much easy for the ‘bad guys’ to access your information and compromise your security online. It is therefore important that you clear all cache and cookies just before you hit the log off button to help prevent malware attack.
3. Scrutinize suspicious links in your emails before clicking
Well, you may have already heard about the dangers of clicking on links from people you do not know. However, it is equally important to note that these links can still come from well-known friends who may have been infected by a virus unknowingly. In other cases, you may receive emails from sources that look legitimate at face value but in the real sense, they are fake. This is a phenomenon better known as phishing.
If you really wanted to stay safe from fake link baits, you would be better off not clicking on these links at all. However, this may not always be realistic as you may end up bypassing important links that were crucial to your work. As such, the best option, in this case, lies in knowing how best to investigate a link before you hit that click button. First, check to know if the link leads to where it promises to lead you to. By hovering your cursor over the link, you should be able to see the destination pop up just at the base of your browser window. You can alternatively right-click on the link and ‘copy-paste’ it to a safer destination like a notepad for better scrutiny.
4. Install and regularly run strong Antivirus software and Firewalls
Installing strong anti-virus software is one of the major defense mechanisms against malware. As a regular internet user, it is important that you get protection from trusted companies like McAfee and Norton. These and many others are known to offer affordable solutions that will help you hold up to common cyber attacks. Having said this, most internet users tend to think that only desktops and laptops deserve an antivirus. On the contrary, mobile devices like phones and tablets are equally vulnerable to these attacks and thus, also need antivirus software installed.
5. Avoid free or Wi-Fi Public Wi-Fi
We all love freebies, don’t we? Well, it turns out that some of these free things can cost us big time. Common among these are unsecured public Wi-Fi. Avoid getting access to your personal information like banking and social media accounts as hackers are known to use the loopholes availed by the free Wi-Fi to gain access to credit card numbers, ATM PINs, passwords and such sensitive data. Alternatively, these hackers can even set up their own router and make it look legitimate in the network.
To be on the safe side, always make use of a secure, wireless data plan. In case you find yourself in a situation where you have to use an open network, limit your browsing to usual streaming and reading news. By logging in to your personal accounts of making online purchases on such networks, you are making it easier for hackers to target your data.
6. Enable Automatic Updates
With millions of software on the internet being downloaded every day, it is inevitable to come across some that are riddled with security issues. Notably, these are found on the constant basis whether on Browsers, Windows, Microsoft Office, Adobe flush Plugin and so much more. This explains why most devices, programs, and operating systems come complete with automatic updates to help mitigate these security threats. However, most users are known to turn off these updates for whatever reason. This puts them at higher risk of falling victim to phishing and hacking escapades.
For your own safety, it is recommended that you leave automatic updates on always. Microsoft is known to provide automatic updates for Windows and its Sister Microsoft products on the second Tuesday of each month. Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have a regular schedule for it’s updates but they do make them as regular as possible.