How to Protect Your Computer from Hackers, Spyware and Viruses.
Cybersecurity is very important. We live a significant part of our life on the Internet and on computer devices. Whether it’s a laptop, smartphone, or desktop computer at work, you have valuable information that questionable people would like to receive. Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew how to protect your computer from hackers and all the other dangers of the digital world?
The good news is, it’s not hard to learn a few basic tips and tricks that will dramatically improve your online security. Get ready because this is going to be a mega-guide with practical advice to help you use your computer and the Internet without getting burned.
Learn Good Cybersecurity Habits
When we are young, parents teach us general rules of life to keep us safe. Always look both ways before crossing the street. Never get into a car with a stranger. That sort of thing.
Unfortunately, today’s technology did not exist when many of us were young, so there is a definite need for the same common sense but adapted to the digital world.
Use strong passwords and passwords. Manager
Passwords are still one of our best hacking defenses. Most sites will have a minimum password complexity. For example, they will say that the password must be of a certain length and contain a certain combination of character types. Unfortunately, any password that a human can easily remember is likely to be cracked by brute force attack sooner rather than later.
The best thing you can do to protect your computer from hackers is to use a reliable https://www.free-online-converters.com//”>password manager These managers keep track of all your passwords securely and generate random strong passwords that are nearly impossible to guess using brute force or any other password cracking method.
The good news is that most people don’t have to search for a https://www.free-online-converters.com//”>password manager for a long time. https://www.free-online-converters.com/chrome-password-manager-how-to-use-it-and-is-it-a/”>Google Chrome already has a very competent built in. You can generate strong passwords in your browser and sync them to the cloud. So wherever you log into your Google account, you can easily retrieve passwords.
Password protect everything
Of course, you need to set passwords for anything that might fall into the wrong hands. Your computer, phone, and tablet must have their own passcodes or passwords. https://www.free-online-converters.com/s2m-explains-how-do-face-id-fingerprint-scan-w/”>Biometric unlocking such as fingerprint or face recognition is not as secure. So it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with your device’s biometric emergency switch, if you have one.
This is a command or keystroke that disables everything except the password. For example, if someone forces you to hand over your computer or phone, they won’t be able to access the device without your code. However, they can point the camera at your face or put their finger on the fingerprint sensor.
Use encryption whenever possible
Encryption is a technique that mathematically encrypts your data so that it cannot be read without the correct key. For example, websites starting with “https” use a secure, encrypted method to send data. This way, only you and the host website know what is being said.
Third parties, such as your service provider or anyone checking data packets as they pass through various stops on the Internet, only know your IP address and the address of the page you are visiting.
You should not only avoid websites that do not use encryption, but you should also stick to chat services that offer end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp is an example of this. End-to-end encryption prevents even WhatsApp itself from knowing what your chats are saying.
Do not trust anyone blindly
One of the biggest risks you face online is impersonation and anonymity. When you interact with someone, you don’t know if they are what you call yourself. In fact, thanks to artificial intelligence, you cannot even be sure that you are communicating with a real person.
This means that it is very important to get some kind of third-party confirmation that you are in contact with the person you should be. Even if this is the person they are talking about, you should also be skeptical about their statements and promises. Treat them with at least the same skepticism as you would a new acquaintance in real life.
Whenever possible, use two-factor authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication is a security method where you use a completely different channel as the second part of your password. This is one of the best ways to protect your accounts from hackers these days. For example, you can receive a one-time PIN through your email account or as a text message to your registered number when you sign in to the service. With two-factor authentication, attackers cannot access your account just to steal your password.
Of course, with enough effort, criminals can bypass two-factor authentication. They may also try to crack your email password or perform a Ã¢â‚¬Å“SIM swapÃ¢â‚¬Â scam and take control of your phone number. However, this requires significant additional effort and risk, so it is unlikely that you will become a victim of a guess. Thus, two-factor authentication is one of the strongest deterrent you can use.
Dealing with Hackers
The term “hacker” has a wide range of meanings in the computing world. Many people consider themselves to be hackers, and people who are actually hackers may not fit the image most people get from movies. Nevertheless, hackers do exist, which means that you need to know how to deal with them.
Types of hackers
Let’s start by clearing up a few misconceptions. Not all hackers are criminals. In the past, legal hackers insisted that criminal hackers be called “crackers,” but the term has never been established in the mainstream.
There are three types of hackers: white hat, gray hat, and black hat.
White Hat hackers are also called “ethical” hackers. These hackers never break the law and everything they do is done with the consent of their goals. For example, a company looking to test its network security might hire a white hat hacker to conduct a “penetration test.” If they manage to get inside, they will not steal or damage anything. Instead, they will inform the customer and help him develop a fix for the security vulnerability.
Gray hackers do not intentionally do harm either, but they are not afraid to break the law to satisfy their curiosity or find security holes. For example, a gray hat might conduct an unsolicited penetration test on someone’s system and then inform them about it later. As the name suggests, gray hats can be criminal, but not malicious.
Black hat hackers are the monsters that most people think of when you use that word. They are malicious computer experts looking to make money or are just sowing anarchy. This is the type of black hat that we should all be wary of.
Remember Social Engineering
It is easy to imagine hackers using high-tech methods to compromise systems, but the truth is that the most powerful tool in a hacker’s arsenal does not involve computers at all. The system is as strong as its strongest weakest link, and most often this weak link is a person. Thus, instead of using a strong technological system, hackers will target weaknesses in human psychology.
One common tactic is to call someone, such as a secretary or low-level technical staff in the company. The hacker will pretend to be a technician or authority and ask for information. Sometimes the information is not confidential.
There are also social engineering techniques that can be used in text chat, in person, or via email.
Learn to detect malicious emails
Email remains one of the most popular ways for attackers to access you. This is ideal because you can simply send out millions of emails and find some lucrative victims with a huge amount of emails.
The best defense against malicious emails is knowing how to recognize them. Any email that offers an implausible reward and requires you to part with your money should be discarded. It’s easy to laugh at the idea of Ã¢â‚¬â€¹Ã¢â‚¬â€¹a prince from a distant land who will give you millions of dollars if you part with only a relatively small amount now. However, every year millions of dollars are stolen from people who fall for these scams. If something seems suspicious or too good to be true, it probably is.
One of the best ways to detect this scam is to put the email text on Google or visit a site like ScamBusters A very similar scam has probably already been reported.
Besides the usual class of scam emails, there are also phishing and targeted phishing emails. These emails are designed to collect information from you that can then be used for further attacks. The most common targets are usernames and passwords.
A phishing email usually contains a link leading to a fake website that should look like your online bank or some other site where you have an account. Thinking that you are on a real site, you enter your username and password, passing them directly to people they shouldn’t be.
Spear phishing is the same, except that those targeting you know who you are. This way they tailor the email to specific details. They may even try to portray your boss or someone you know.
The way to combat phishing attempts and protect your computer from hackers is to never click on links from unsolicited emails. Always go to the site yourself and make sure the web address is correct. Spear phishing attempts can be prevented by using a second verification channel.
For example, if someone says they are from your bank, call the bank and ask to speak to that person directly. Likewise, pick up the phone and ask your boss, friend, or acquaintance if they really sent the specified letter or not.
Be especially careful when away from home
It’s easy to think of hackers as people doing their thing for miles, sitting in front of a computer in a dark room. In real life, a person sitting at a table in a cafe may well hack you while sipping a latte.
Public spaces can be easy targets for hackers. They may try to trick you personally by asking you for personal information. What you add to security questions or can be used in social engineering attacks. Sometimes people can just look over your shoulder when you enter a password or display sensitive information.
A common threat is public Wi-Fi. Anyone on the same Wi-Fi network as you can see the information your device sends and receives. They can even access your device directly if it is misconfigured in some way.
The most important precaution to take if you need to use a public Wi-Fi network is to use a VPN, which will encrypt all data leaving your computer. You must also use a firewall and specifically mark the Wi-Fi network as public to block direct access to other users on the network. Usually, the first time you connect, you are asked whether the network is private or public.
The last thing you should be wary of is publicly available USB devices. Never insert the found flash drive into your computer or work computer. Hackers often leave infected spyware discs in the hope that someone will connect them to their computer and give them access.
Public charging areas are also dangerous. You must use a USB cable that can only provide power and not data when charging from unknown sources. Just in case, we replaced the charger with a hacked one.
Dealing with Malware
Malicious software includes viruses, spyware, adware, Trojans, and various other subtypes of malicious software packages. We’ll take a look at each type of malware, and then we’ll also look at how to avoid or fix the problem.
Perhaps the most well-known form of malware, a computer virus, is a self-replicating piece of software that spreads from one computer to another via disks, storage devices, and email. Viruses are not separate programs. Instead, they usually plug into another legitimate program and execute their code when you run that program.
In addition to making their own copies to infect new computers, viruses also have a payload. It could be something harmless or mildly annoying, such as a message that appears to make fun of you, or it could be serious. For example, a virus that completely erases all your data.
The good news is that viruses cannot spread by themselves. They need your help! The first and most important protection is antivirus software. The Windows Defender that ships with Windows 10 is fine for most people, but there are many options. While viruses for macOS and Linux exist, these markets are relatively small, so virus writers don’t worry about them too often.
Things are changing, however, and if you do use one of these operating systems, it might be a good idea to find an antivirus package you like before their growing popularity brings the flood of new opportunistic viruses.
Apart from using an antivirus suite, reasonable precautions include not inserting USB drives into any old computer you come across. Especially public cars. You should also be very careful when using software that you find on the Internet but not from a trusted source. Pirated software is not only illegal, but also a breeding ground for viruses and other malware.
Named after the wooden horse that dragged a bunch of soldiers into the city of Troy, this type of software masquerades as a legitimate utility or other useful program. As with a virus, the user launches the program and then the malicious code takes over. Also, as with a virus, the payload depends on what the creators want to achieve. Trojans are different from viruses in the sense that they are standalone programs and do not replicate themselves.
Most anti-virus programs keep a database of Trojan signatures, but new ones are constantly being created. This allows a few new ones to slip through. In general, it’s best not to run any software from sources that you don’t fully trust.
This is a particularly dangerous form of malware, and the damage that ransomware can do is enormous. Once infected with this malware, it quietly begins encrypting and hiding your data, replacing it with bogus folders and files of the same name. Ransomware authors have different approaches, but usually malware encrypts files in places where important data may be in the first place. After your data is encrypted, a pop-up window will appear asking you to pay in exchange for the encryption key.
Unfortunately, once encrypted information can no longer be returned. However, under no circumstances should you give money to the creators of ransomware! In some cases, you can get previous versions of important files by checking volume shadow copy. However, the most effective way to protect yourself from ransomware is to store your most important files in a cloud service like DropBox, OneDrive, or Google Drive.
Even if encrypted files are synced to the cloud, all of these services offer a sliding backup window. This way, you can go back to the moments before the files were encrypted. This turns a ransomware attack from a serious disaster to a mild annoyance.
Worms are another form of self-replicating malware, but there is one significant difference from viruses. Worms don’t need you, the user, to do anything to infect a machine. Worms can travel through the network by entering through unprotected ports. They can also exploit vulnerabilities in other programs that allow malicious code to run.
What to do with worms? This isn’t such a big deal these days, but make sure you have a software firewall installed on your computer and / or router. Always keep your software and operating system up to date. At least when it comes to security updates. Of course, updating your antivirus is also an important safety precaution.
AdWare & Spyware
AdWare and Spyware are two types of rather annoying malware that can do different levels of harm. AdWare usually doesn’t spoil anything on purpose. Instead, pop-up ads appear on your screen.
This can make your computer unusable due to screen clutter and a lot of system resources, but after you uninstall AdWare, your computer won’t become more worn out.
Spyware rarely causes direct damage, but it is much more malicious. This software spies on you and then reports it to its creator. This could include recording your screen, watching you with a webcam, and recording all keystrokes to steal passwords. It’s intimidating, and since it happens in the background, you won’t even know that something is happening.
Dedicated malware removal apps like AdAware will quickly deal with these programs, but you can also prevent infection in the same way as Trojans and viruses.
Browser hijackers are a particular pain in the neck. This malware hijacks your web browser and redirects you to pages that benefit the creator. Sometimes this means fake or cunning search engines. Sometimes this means redirecting to fake versions of sites or pages filled with nasty ads.
The good news is that the same anti-malware software that deals with adware and spyware will also fight against browser hijackers. If you are running Windows 10, this is not a problem either, because WIndows requires your permission to make changes necessary for browser hijackers to work.
You are the most important part!
If humans are usually the weakest part of a computer security system, they may also be the strongest component of all. Try to find out about the latest cybersecurity threats when you get the opportunity. Try to put into practice the basic sound security principles we discussed above, and learn to trust your intuition. There is no perfect security, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a passive victim of cybercrime.