Technology has changed the way we do things. We can work from home; shop with a single click; communicate in real-time, and do so much more. The positive rewards and opportunities for each of us are clear – we get to save money, time, and energy. We also have access to a wide range of quality solutions with the touch of a button.
But like with other good things, technology doesn’t come without its fair share of problems. Cybersecurity is one such problem. About 50% of all American adults have been hacked, having fallen prey to social media hijackings, email-phishing scams, malware infestation, and ransomware, according to a CNN poll. Such hacks are embarrassing and costly for individuals – but can have devastating effects on small businesses.
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With hacker attacks happening every 39 seconds, the importance of securing your computer can never be overemphasized. We’ll tell you how to do that in a moment, but first, let’s make sure we are on the same page.
Who are Cyberattackers?
Also referred to as cyberterrorists, cybercriminals, or hackers, cyberattackers are individuals or groups of people who use technology to perpetrate crime to steal sensitive personal or company data for profit. Hackers may use your computer as their target, weapon, or accessory to perform:
- Financial crimes
- Corporate espionage
With that in mind, let’s look at cybersecurity tricks to keep your computer safe:
Use a Perimeter-based Firewall
A firewall is the first line of defence against cyber-attacks. It’s designed to defend your computer against electronic threats by screening worms, hackers, and viruses trying to infiltrate your network perimeter. Firewalls serve as the watchman between your computer and the World Wide Web. It keeps external threats out while pointing you to sneaky issues by diverting outgoing data.
Use a Secure Password
Passwords are one the easiest and most effective ways to secure your computer and other personal stuff. But you’ll need a strong one if you’re to reap the maximum benefits. Experts discourage using a birthdate, pet names, and chronologically-ordered numbers because these are the easiest to hack. So, steer clear of things like 123456, password, ABC123, and so on. Instead, use the following suggestions to make secure and safe passwords:
- Make it long: the longer, the better, but it shouldn’t be less than eight characters.
- Mix the characters: use both lower and upper cases, and add in numbers and symbols to make it more potent.
- Avoid common substitutions: hackers are smart. So don’t try to replace letters with special characters or numerals (like DOORBELL and D00R8377) because the attackers will crack it with the same ease.
- Avoid memorable keyword paths: don’t use sequential keyboard paths like ASDF or QWERTY as they are often the first to be guessed.
- Don’t reuse passwords: you might be tempted to reuse passwords for different accounts, but it only makes you vulnerable. In case you’re having a hard time remembering all passwords, you can try out password managers.
Install Antivirus Software
A virus is designed to go from one device or computer to the other, replicating itself and spreading malicious programs and codes that can infiltrate and damage your operating system. They are meant to give attackers access to your computer. Malware (spyware, viruses, and other malicious software) can do everything from tracking and controlling your online activity to crashing your device. They enable hackers to send spam and even steal personal data. Antivirus software safeguards against these threats by performing the following tasks:
- Scheduling automatic scans
- Singling out folders for the detection of malware
- Scanning a file or the entire system as per your needs
- Deleting malicious software and codes
- Confirming your computer’s safety
Install Anti-spyware Software
Spyware is a type of malware that infiltrates your computer, collects your personal information, and relays it to data firms, advertisers, and external users. The malicious software is designed to gain access to your device, often without your knowledge. Attackers use spyware to record your bank account or credit card data, steal your identity or monitor and sell your internet usage information.
Using a good antivirus package that includes anti-spyware software can help protect your computer against such attacks. The anti-spyware solution runs in the background and detects and removes spyware. It offers real-time protection against all threats, keeping your computer safe.
Don’t Fall for Baits.
Hackers are brilliant people. They’ll use all kinds of bait to try to infiltrate your computer. That’s why the importance of recognizing hacker’s baits can never be overstated. Phishing scams impersonate legitimate organizations, friends, and even associates. So be wary of any email that requests you to verify your data. You shouldn’t open any attachments or click any links too. Other ways to not fall prey include:
- Not opening emails from unknown senders.
- Not clicking on pop-up ads.
- Not downloading files from untrustworthy sources.
- Using reputable antivirus software
Backup your Files
Backup and recovery are critical to cybersecurity planning. It is the last line of defence against a cyberattack, offering a way to recover original data. A good backup and good recovery plan can mean the difference between losing years of work and being able to bounce back within days of an attack. A good back up:
- Protects you in case of accidental disaster or deletions
- Offers you with history of an attacker’s activities by checking through older backups
- Protects you against unapproved changes made by an attacker or hacker