Every day, there are tons of cyber security attacks around the world. Hackers’ tools have grown increasingly sophisticated. Nowadays, they can launch advanced attacks on millions of computers in a few seconds. Ten years ago, it was more than enough to have a firewall and antivirus software. However, just as hackers have grown more advanced so too have most users. Here are a few essential PC security tips that all computer users should follow.
Why Protection Is Vital
Think about everything you do online. It’s more than just social media and binge-watching your favourite Netflix content. You pay bills, organize trips, and communicate with friends and colleagues. This wealth of data is why hackers create such large scale attacks. Even if they catch .01% of users, they’re able to access sensitive information like addresses, social security numbers, credit card details, and much more. Even if you have a minimal digital footprint, hackers only need the slightest crack in the door to get in.
Antivirus software and firewalls are an important component of security. However, by the time a virus or malware has got onto your computer, it’s already too late. You may be able to remove it, but your personal information has already fallen into the wrong hands.
VPNs are the Cornerstone of Security
The vast majority of threats to computers come through your network connection. This can be done through downloading viruses or unconsciously like when hackers gain access to a computer through using its IP address and other open information. VPNs or virtual private networks are the strongest tools to protect your internet connection.
How does a VPN work?
Your computer connects to a third party server which then encrypts and anonymizes your connection. VPNs use the strongest encryption technology that is nearly impossible to break and, even if that happened, hackers wouldn’t see your actual IP address since it’s been anonymized.
The best VPN servers double this protection by following a “no log” policy (example). With a no-log VPN, there’s no browsing history from your computer left on the VPN servers. This means that should the servers be hacked, you’re still safe. Likewise, this greatly increases your privacy so you can browse the internet without advertisers, your ISP or hackers trying to use your personal information.
More than 80% of people use the same password across online accounts. What’s worse, most of the passwords are incredibly simple and can be found in the list of the 10,000 most common passwords. If a hacker gains access to one of your online accounts, then you can be sure your other ones are vulnerable as well.
Password managers are the best tools to fight this. You can use them to have complex passwords that you’d never remember across everything you do online. You can have a unique password for Netflix, Facebook, Google, and so on. Some of the best ones even scan the dark web to protect against hacked accounts. Besides, they are excellent tools against keylogger malware as you don’t have to physically enter a password when you use them.
During the last year, two-factor authentication has grown in popularity. This double layer of security greatly enhances your digital safety because even if your account password is stolen, you still need the additional layer to log into an account. When combined with password managers, they reduce the chance of stolen login credentials to nearly zero.
A huge percentage of viruses and malware are downloaded accidentally by users. Most commonly, a person receives a file containing a folder from a trusted contact. So without thinking, they download it only to infect their own computer. This is one of the most common hacks, and its number is growing increasingly sophisticated. In the past, most of the emails would go straight to spam folders.
But hackers have got much better at impersonating people. What’s worse, they turn every infected computer into another opportunity to spread the virus. Hacking is all about numbers, and it only takes one or two people to download the file each time for it to grow like wildfire. Before you download any file, verify that it comes from a trusted sender. Read the text of the email and if it sounds unusual, call the person for confirmation. Also, regardless of who sends you the file, be sure to scan it for viruses before you download it onto your computer.
It Takes More than Antivirus Software
Antivirus software will always be an essential part of cybersecurity. It’s an important tool to remove viruses and malware that may have infected your computer. However, like everything in life, prevention is the best medicine. It’s essential to prevent hackers from gaining any access to your computer. You can do this by using a VPN to protect your internet connection. Use a password manager to keep your login credentials safe. Finally, be sure to scan any files you download onto your computer. Hackers prey on easy targets. By following these tips, you’ll stay safe from even the most advanced cybersecurity threats.