In today’s online world, threats continue to loom. But unlike before, where viruses aim to destroy your computer, modern cyber threats actually preserve your computer. Malicious programmers have it in their best interests not to damage anything. So what do they want?
Information and Money.
These are what modern malware want to get out of your devices. They want the information to get into your email account, social media, and of course, your bank accounts. Once they have that, they can do whatever they want with it, with the victims being none the wiser. Many cyber-attack victims are even unaware that they were being attacked in the first place. It’s only when they lose their money or realise someone used their credit cards that they notice something is wrong.
But you don’t have to be one of those victims. Just follow these three simple rules of cybersecurity. The good thing is none of these tips reads “buy an antivirus solution”. Those can be expensive, and you have better things to spend your money on. Have a look.
1. Don’t open strange links and email attachments
We all get them at one point or another. Some of them even come from people we know. We get them from Skype, Facebook messenger, Gmail, iCloud mail, wherever. They come in all forms, such as asking for help because of an emergency, or an offer of making some fast, easy money.
Whenever there’s a link you don’t recognise, or an attachment that it’s asking you to download, take caution. Something like this should raise all sorts of red flags to you. Especially if it comes from someone you know. So if you happen to be on the receiving end of a dubious email or instant message, take it easy. Don’t click or tap that link, even if you feel like doing it.
Because if you do, that can spell big trouble for your online security. That could be the first step in extracting your precious information, or in hijacking your device to extract that information even without you doing anything. Next thing you know, someone already used your MasterCard to buy two iPhones. Scary isn’t it?
Instead, get in touch with the person who sent it to you. Really ask them if they did intend to send that to you. Almost all of the time, you’ll realise that they didn’t. And once you have that answer, you know what to do: Delete the dubious email/message right away.
2. Change your passwords regularly
Remember that thing your dentist always tells you? “Change your toothbrush every six months?” Same goes with your passwords. Make it a habit to change them at least every six months. Or, if you feel that any of your accounts have been compromised, change the passwords right away. Even if you just suspect a hack but aren’t sure. Changing the password is a good first step to prevent any damage.
A password manager is also a good idea. There are many free ones, like LastPass, RoboForm, and KeePass. These take away the chore of having to remember so many passwords. All you have to remember is a single “master” password, and the password managers take care of the rest.
3. Keep your operating systems updated
This applies to any computing device you own: PC, laptop, phone, tablet, smart TV, Amazon Echo, you name it. OS updates keep the bugs and exploits away, so that there are less ways for hackers to get into your devices and steal the information in them. That’s the reason updates are often called “patches”: they patch the “holes” in the code of the OS that hackers love to take advantage of. Once those holes are plugged, your devices are much safer from prying eyes.
See? No antivirus required. Keep these tips as rules of thumb, and you’ll be much safer in the online world. Show those hackers who the smarter bunch really is.