From your business to your home and everywhere in between, there are daily threats that have to be avoided for you to maintain a healthy life. Locking your doors, looking both ways before you cross the street, practicing safe driving — these are all things we do prevent the worst from happening. The same goes for your online life as well.
The internet is arguably more dangerous than real life with thousands of threats swarming the web. In fact, there are about 74,000 new computer viruses that are created every single day. Furthermore, some type of malware has affected over 30% of the computers in the world!
Malware (short for malicious software) is designed to sneak its way into a computer, unbeknownst to the owner, and wreak havoc on your computer, business or worse. While this may seem overwhelming, there are strategies and precautions you can implement to prevent malware from damaging your computer and the precious data stored on it.
Don’t Run Untrustworthy ProgramsWhen you’re browsing the web, be very cautious of the pop-up windows that appear on your screen that ask you to RUN a program. If you went online to download a program or to open an attachment, it’s likely that a window will appear and ask you if you trust the source. Here’s a tip: only run the program if you know exactly what it is and/or where it comes from.
Make use of your antivirus software and scan the program with it to ensure its intent and your computer’s safety. The consequences can get harsh if you blindly accept the program and your computer may be at risk once that program is done downloading.
Keep Your System Updated (OS & Anti-Virus Software)Whenever your operating system is asking to update, do it! These updates are essential for padded security against malware as anti-virus software alone doesn’t necessarily protect your computer network effectively.
Keeping both your operating system and anti-virus software updated regularly makes it more difficult for intruders to gain access to your network. It does this by staying fresh with new technology that evolves with the thousands ofmalware programs created on a daily basis.
Don’t Open Suspicious Email AttachmentsMalware comes in different forms with some of the trickiest coming in your inbox. If you’re a regular recipient of spam emails, then you likely delete them without a second thought and that’s exactly what you should do.
Hackers and cyber criminals design emails to make them seem like they’re coming from a reputable source like your bank, but further observation of the email will display its flaws. If an email comes with an attachment and you doubt who it’s truly from, it’s advised that you run it through your anti-virus software first.
Never open up a suspicious attachment unless you know exactly who it’s from as the potential harm that can reach your inbox and spread to your computer can be very costly.
Make Complex Passwords
Part of using smart online behavior is taking precautions with your passwords. It’s easy to just give in and make simple ones, but this is also what hackers and cyber criminals hope you do. Plus, once they’re able to hack one of your passwords, they’re likely to attempt to try the same passwords on your other online accounts.
Ideally, your passwords should be at least eight characters long and include uppercase and lowercase letters as well as special characters. This quirky characters make it more difficult to hack and can save you from costly consequences should a hacker attempt to infiltrate your accounts.
Avoid Using Open Wi-Fi Networks
When you’re in a coffee shop or airport and you notice an open wi-fi network that requires no password, it looks enticing. As it should. It’s also enticing for hackers as well. If it’s easy for you to connect, imagine how easy it would be for a cyber criminal who’s experienced to make malware work for their purposes.
If possible, avoid using these networks in order to give your aggressor an extra hurdle to jump over before they even reach your system — which if you take all of these precautions, will hopefully never happen.