The Internet has made our life easier in many ways but there’s a flip side. Being connected to the wider world through the web has increased our risk of cyber attacks. This post shares tips to help yourself keep cyber safe.
Five Most Common Cyber Security Threats
A cyber attack, in simpler terms, is an attempt by hackers or cyber-criminals to access a computer system or network to steal, alter, destroy, or expose information. The most common types of cyber security threats are:
This is perhaps the most common type of cyber security threats. Malware refers to any code or program designed with the purpose of harming a computer or network. There are many subsets of malware such as ransomware, spyware, trojans, viruses, keyloggers, etc.
The trojan virus infiltrates a system by disguising itself as a genuine software or program. Ransomware works by blocking your access to data stored on your computer. It then asks you to pay money to regain access to it. Spyware, on the other hand, steals your confidential data, while adware shows advertising content on your screen. Keylogger, in contrast, collect every keystroke you type for the purpose of stealing your passwords and other confidential data.
In a phishing attack, a cybercriminal uses email, social media, phone, SMS, or social engineering techniques for enticing unsuspecting users to share personal information, like bank account details. It may also involve enticing users to download a malicious file on their computer or phone.
This type of cyberattack occurs when a cyber attacker puts himself between two entities, generally a user and an application (like a web page). The threat actor first intercepts the communication between the two parties, and then controls the entire conversation and uses the stolen data for malicious purposes. Such attacks pose a very serious threat, since cyber attackers can capture your personal data (such as bank account details or credit card information).
In this type of cyberattack, an entity pretends to be something they are not in an attempt to win our confidence and gain access to our systems and steal sensitive data or money. Spoofing attacks in the cyber world come in different forms, including email spoofing, extension spoofing, website spoofing, IP spoofing, extension spoofing, and facial spoofing.
This type of cyber attacks involve flooding a system or network with so many requests that it cannot handle any or some of the legitimate requests received from its intended users. For example, an attacker may flood a bank’s website with numerous log-in requests, forcing it to deny access to its legitimate users.
Tell-tale Signs of Malware Infection
Even if you strictly follow all the rules of cyber security—keeping your system up-to-date, avoiding suspicious links, never opening unsolicited emails, and using a robust antimalware tool—it is still possible that your computer might get infected with malware. But how can you tell? Here are some tell-tale signs of malware infection.
Has your system suddenly started running slowly, even when you are not using any resource-hogging application? If so, this could be a sign of malware infection.
If you are getting the much annoying blue screen of death, especially repeatedly, your computer might be infected.
Unexplained folder or file changes
Are you seeing different icons for some files or have some files gone missing from your computer? If so, this could point toward a malware infection. Your operating system is not going to make changes likes these on its own, unless there’s some technical issue or a virus infection.
Strange popup ads
Is your screen being flooded with popup ads, even when you are not online? In that case, your computer might be infected with spyware. Unexpected images appearing on your screen—for instance pornographic images replacing harmless images—is another tell-tale sign of malware infection.
Diminished hard disk space
If you are noticing unexplained decrease in storage space, your computer may be infected with self-replicating virus or worm (also known as the disk bomb). These malware programs are designed to multiply themselves rapidly, hogging the disk space and causing all sorts of problems.
Browser redirects or homepage changing randomly
Many a time, signs of malware infection are immediately apparent in your web browser. For instance, in case your homepage is changing randomly for no rhyme or reason, you should check your computer for malware infection. Such changes are usually happen after you accidently click a malicious pop-up window or link. Another common symptom of malware infection is your web traffic getting redirected to unsafe websites, created for the sole purpose of stealing unsuspecting users’ personal data.
Unable to download an antivirus program or update an existing one
Certain malware programs are programmed in such a way to avoid detection. These malicious files can prevent an infected computer from downloading a new antivirus program or update an existing one.
In case your emails aren’t sent or others are receiving strange-looking emails from your address that you didn’t send, there’s a strong chance that your PC has been infected (or someone has stolen your email account login details).
Fake virus alerts
Another red flag for a malware infection is the appearance of fake virus alerts, stating that your computer is under attack. This happens when a malware program enters your computer and shows itself as a fake security program. It will likely offer to fix the so-called infections in exchange of either personal information or money.
Opening and closing of programs without your consent
Does it look like your system has got a mind of its own? Is it opening and closing programs randomly without your consent? This could happen due to a malware infection. Such behavior is not only very annoying but it is also a sure-shot sign that your computer’s security has been breached.
How to protect yourself from cyber attacks
Now that you know what a cyber attack is, the most common types of cyber attack, and tell-tale signs of data breach, it’s time to look at the best ways to shield ourselves against them. Here are some tips that can go a long way in ensuring your cyber security:
Use multi-factor authentication
In a multi-factor authentication set-up, an additional confirmation is required over and above the account password. For example, if you turn on the multi-factor authentication for your online banking, in addition to the password, you will need to provide another authentication, which could be a one-time password received via SMS or email, to log in. As you may guess, putting an additional layer of security in place prevents cyber criminals from stealing your data or money or both even if they manage to collect your login details.
Go for harder-to-guess passwords
This one is no brainer. Using “1 2 3 4” for your password or credit card (or debit card) PIN is a complete no-no, as is using your name along with your birth date. Always use complex passwords, which do not include any personal information (a name, birth date, etc.) that others may guess easily.
Don’t use unsecured networks for logging into sensitive accounts
Yes, that means the network at your favorite cafe or hotel or on the plane.
Answer security questions creatively
You know those security questions about your favorite writer or pet, mother’s maiden name, father’s middle name? Well, answering these questions can help improve the security of the account in question, but there’s no rule that prevents you being creative while answering. For example, you can put your best friend’s name in the answer to the question “what is your favorite pet?” Answering all the security questions the same way can make it easier for hackers to access different accounts if they manage to crack the code for one.
Don’t download software before reading reviews
Since some free software contain spyware, always check the online reviews before installing a new software. If there are more positive reviews than negative reviews, you can rest easy in knowledge that the app is a genuine one. Also, as much as possible, download new apps only from their official websites.
Beware of unsolicited emails (especially those with links or attachments)
More often than not, unsolicited emails are fraudulent. Legitimate businesses generally do not send unsolicited emails with attachment.
If you receive an email from an unknown sender, look out for file types such as .exe or .zip. Hackers frequently use these file extensions to install rogue programs or applications. You can either ignore such emails or contact the sender directly to confirm whether they have indeed sent you the email. Whatever you do, but do not click on the attachment included in an unsolicited email.
Update your drivers regularly
Hackers may exploit security vulnerabilities in outdated device drivers to slip malware in to your computer. Therefore, don’t forget to regularly update your device drivers.
You can manually update your device drivers, but you need a little bit of technical knowledge to do so. Also, the manual process of updating drivers can be time-consuming. For these reasons, we recommend using a reliable driver update tool.
Automatic driver update tools offer many benefits, the most important ones being:
- You can update device drivers automatically
- The software scans and updates all outdated or missing drivers at one go
- The tool picks the right drivers for your device and operating system, so you won’t have to worry about installing an incorrect driver by mistake
- Automatic driver updates are 100% safe
Driver Updater is one of the best driver update tools out there. Outbyte Driver Updater will give you access to a database of over 1 million drivers. It will regularly scan your PC, suggesting new driver versions to install. Driver Updater contains drivers for a variety of Windows devices. With just one click, you can update drivers in your system.
Scan all devices
Install or update drivers automatically