01 Sep 3 Biggest Security Risks on Your Computer (and 5 Tools to Protect You).
Hacking, cybercrime, and security breaches have been major threats since the invention of the internet. Savvy criminals have built an entire industry accessing, stealing, and selling the personal information of unsuspecting users. Unfortunately, that threat is only on the rise– in fact, $2.9 million is lost to cybercrime every minute. What you might not know, however, is that some major cybersecurity risks have already been downloaded onto your computer. Here are three of the biggest security risks that may be on your computer right now.
Cheap Software, Freeware, and Shareware
We know–free stuff is painful to give up. Although it’s tempting to use that free PDF suite, image editor, or file converter, small software companies and freeware sites often use code written by multiple developers. When that’s the case, function usually takes precedence over security. The software may have vulnerabilities that its mainstream counterpart does not. Get rid of all those cheap software hacks and use licensed software from mainstream developers. Your wallet may feel lighter in the short run, but in the long run, your data will thank you.
Browser plugins are software components, sometimes called “add-ons,” that add features to an existing computer program. Popular examples include Adobe Flash or Acrobat, Java, Silverlight, and others. These fall into the same threat category as freeware and shareware: they often have multiple coders and significant vulnerabilities. However, browser plugins also often require permissions to be a middleman between you and your internet browser. That gives them even more power, whether through code vulnerabilities or purposeful, malicious intent, to expose your data to internet threats. Avoid browser plug-ins and add-ons when you can.
But the biggest security risk on your computer isn’t a program.
Before you feel attacked, stick with us for a moment. Studies show that 95% of breaches occur due to user error. No matter how tech-savvy the user, it only takes one click to open up a world of cyber trouble. Unfortunately, cyber criminals are smart, and only getting smarter– they’ll use any means necessary to obtain and misuse your sensitive data. However, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself. No matter what, don’t:
- Use the same password for every account you own
- Use easily guessed passwords for your accounts
- Click links from an unknown or untrusted source
- Post private or sensitive information on a public site
- Leave devices unattended
These 5 Tools Can Protect Your Data.
While it is important to take the above steps to protect your precious data, it may not always be enough to keep hackers at bay. Implementing these four tools is also vital for your cyber safety.
Regardless of what kind of technology you use, your firewall should be turned on at all times. A firewall is an extra layer of protection that can help prevent external threats from ever reaching your computer in the first place. Without one, your computer is left vulnerable to hackers and other bots that search for unprotected computers on the internet in order to steal others’ personal information and data. Firewalls can be hardware or software, and having both is often enough to protect your computer from the basest of attacks. If you use an internet router in your home, then it is important to use a firewall, or you may find your household susceptible to attacks.
We realize that those pesky software updates that frequently interrupt your day-to-day activities are frustrating to sit through. There’s often nothing more irritating when one pops up right as you’re gearing up to plow through some important work. However, it is extremely important that you always have up-to-date virus protection software installed on your computer. Viruses and other cyberattacks may damage your computer to the point where the information on the hard drive can no longer even be accessed. Antivirus software may protect your computer from viruses, spyware, malware, spam, phishing, and other types of cyberattacks. Research reputable antivirus software companies, and then stick to your guns with regular updates.
Have you ever clicked on a web page, only to be met with a “proceed with caution” pop-up? Web filtering is a process that automatically blocks sites that are known for distributing malware. Taken a step further, web filtering can also be used to prevent children or employees from accessing dangerous, disturbing, or inappropriate web material. But for the everyday user, web filtering protects you from that last threat–yourself. Although certain links may be enticing to click on, web filtering processes help keep you from making mistakes by adding an extra layer of security and making sure that you are aware of the potential reported risks associated with a site before you proceed.
Although mainstream protection companies are often the most secure way to go, even big brands such as Microsoft will have the occasional vulnerability in their code. After all, code is written by humans–and humans make mistakes. It is important to keep your computer up to date by installing all the latest security patches, regardless of what software you are using. Patches are often considered one of the most important cybersecurity features a user can have, because they come down from the developers themselves and are meant to fix issues in code that the developers have noticed.
Finally, your backup is your last line of defense to keep from paying a hefty ransom. Make sure you are running local and off-site backups of your critical data every day, and keeping at least three revisions. This is important not just for commercial companies and businesses, but for the everyday personal user as well. Back up all your passwords, files, pictures, and other personal data onto both a cloud and a separate harddrive in order to ensure the longevity of your digital belongings.
Despite your best efforts, your computer may be full of security risks, leaving your data vulnerable to cybercriminals. Thankfully, there are things you can do–and tools you can use–to minimize your risk of a breach. If you haven’t already, be sure to put these tools to use today.
Most business owners, entrepreneurs and IT managers are anxious and frustrated with computer technology because they don’t know how to make their systems secure while keeping their employees productive. Managing computer technology yourself or in-house leads to lower productivity, greater expense, cyber attacks, and ultimately, data loss. At iSAFE, we manage computer technology for our customers so you can focus on running your business and accomplishing your goals. If you’re ready for someone to completely manage your IT infrastructure, secure your data and networks, and support your staff, then iSAFE Complete Managed Services is for you. Learn more about our services or sign up today.