The Internet has become central to our lives over the past two decades. It’s virtually impossible to imagine our everyday routine without a working Internet connection; whether it’s talking to other people, conducting business plans or researching material for an essay, you need a way to connect to the web in order to do so. Being able to get your hands on any bit of information almost instantly and connect with people all over the world has made our lives infinitely easier and more convenient, but at a certain price.
Of course, I’m talking about cyber attacks. A cyber attack is any malicious activity conducted with the help of a computer, and most often, an Internet connection. It’s become very easy to perform illegal activities from a distance, and having access to the web provides just that; the lack of any imminent threat or consequence. Cyber crime has definitely become a threat too serious to ignore any further, as certain studies have shown that, globally, more than $400 billion because of cyber-attacks.
A successful cyber attack can have a wide array of consequences, some more serious than others. Most often, when dealing with a cyber attack, it’s either outright sabotage (like when someone carries out a DDoS attack on your website to stop it from working) or a data security breach, which is arguably even worse. The scariest thing of all is that hackers are becoming so advanced, that even top-of-the-line cyber security can’t stand in their way. In other words, if you want to keep up, make sure your data remains secure and prevent hackers from sabotaging your work remotely, you’re going to have to spend quite a bit of time learning about cyber security and what to do about it.
What Are The Consequences?
The first step is in protecting yourself against cyber attacks is realizing just how dangerous they can be. The outcome of the cyber attack depends on the intent of the hacker, and how much immediate damage the attack itself has caused. Intellectual property loss is often the consequence of a successful cyber attack, where the hacker manages to steal some confidential information about a product or service that is the intellectual property of a company or an individual. This often leads to partial or complete leaks of movies, video games, or anything of the sort, and can potentially cost a lot of money.
Theft of customer information is another possibility. In the last few years, certain social media and Cloud storage websites have been the victims of cyber attacks, carried out with the specific intent on getting information about the users of said websites. This means that the hackers successfully got their hands on potentially thousands of users’ login information, which would theoretically give them unrestricted access to endless personal, sensitive data that they can then use for any malicious purpose they see fit. If you to products on your website, it’s even possible for the hacker to obtain your customers’ credit card information, causing a world of financial trouble for them.
How To Protect Yourself
There is a number of ways to reduce the overall risk of being successfully targeted by a cyber attack. It’s important to realize that you’re never completely safe, but it’s a lot less likely that you will have any trouble with cyber crime if you follow some general guidelines about online protection.
The most valuable advice I can give you is to browse carefully. There are a lot of phishing sites on the web, run by people just waiting to get their hands on your private information and misuse it. There’s even certain malware capable of hijacking your DNS and leading you to fake banking websites. If you fall for this scam and input your credit card information on a website like this, you might be kissing your bank account and everything in it goodbye. So first and foremost, always double check everything that you do online before you do it, and you’ll significantly reduce the risk of your security and privacy being compromised.
Another very good way of protecting yourself is making sure that you’re using strong passwords, changing them regularly and not sharing them with anyone. I can’t stress enough how important this is; no matter how much you trust the other person, you should never resort to such a blatant security risk. There have been many incidents of con artists pretending to be authorized personnel and asking people to give them their passwords, in order to help them “resolve an issue.” No matter what online service you’re using, you have to remember that they will never ask you for your password. This is a scam, 100% of the time, and falling for it can be very dangerous.
And finally, one last piece of advice: always make sure that your device is free from any kind of malware, because that can also be a significant security risk. Malware can do a lot more than just slow down your PC or phone, it can also potentially supply third parties with your private information, or use your device in a DDoS attack. Phones and tablets are particularly vulnerable here, because you frequently use them to connect to public WiFi networks that are significantly less secure and private than your home network.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t have an anti-virus app installed on your handheld device. There are a lot of free anti-malware apps available for your smartphone that do a great job of protecting it from malicious software, and if you tend to use your device a lot or have any sort of private information on it (including photos), you should definitely consider installing it. Here are some of the best ones, in my personal opinion:
People that have been using a PC for more than a few years have probably heard of Avast as one of the most popular freeware anti-virus programs on the market. Now, Avast developed a mobile version of their anti-virus, and I have to say that it’s everything I expected from a company such as Avast. The malware detection rates and the real-time protection feature are superb, and there are also a few additional highly useful features. You can set it to scan your device at a specific time every day, which is a great way to make sure that your phone or tablet is always free of malware. Of course, if you prefer you can disable this feature and initiate your scans manually. Like virtually any anti-virus these days, Avast has been put through an AV-TEST by an independent lab and I’m glad to say that it passed with flying colors, flaunting a 99.7 percent detection rate. Additionally, Avast offers some useful extra features such as anti-theft, a system optimizer and password manager, which you can use to further increase the overall security and privacy of your device.
CM Security is an anti-virus app developed by the Chinese company Cheetah Mobile, that has quickly become the go-to anti-malware for hundreds of people worldwide. It’s very intuitive, easy to use, and offers a variety of add-ons that can enhance your experience with the app. When it comes to malware protection, one of the biggest advantages this app has over its competitors is the sheer speed of the scans. It takes CM security no more than 30 seconds to perform a full, deep scan of your phone’s operating system, which means that you can literally clean your phone up while waiting for the bus or taking the elevator up to your office. If you just want to perform a surface scan of your system and your apps, it does so in a blazing six seconds. Just like Avast, CM Security’s detection rates are downright impressive, coming in at 99.7 percent when given brand new samples, and 100 percent of samples that are more than four weeks old. Additionally, CM Security has built-in support for fingerprint scanners, which means that if you happen to have a phone that supports this feature, it’ll be virtually impossible for anyone to access your phone directly without your knowledge.
Another great anti-malware app by one of the first companies in the field of mobile security. Lookout is very easy to set up and features an intuitive interface, making this app extremely easy to use. This app automatically scans any files that you happen to download to your device, making sure that you’re protected from any imminent malware threat. Additionally, it automatically blocks access to any known phishing sites that could potentially steal your private information. On its last AV-TEST, Lookout displayed detection rates of 99.4 percent, greatly outperforming the average one of 90.4 percent. Lookout also protects your privacy with its sophisticated anti-theft system, in the event that your phone is stolen. Not only can you locate the phone via GPS, you can also trigger an alarm that works when the phone is in silent mode, or remotely wipe all data from your device.
More than 100 million people worldwide use ESET on one of their devices, which is more than enough proof that this is a solid anti-malware app. There’s a free and a premium version, although both of them display very impressive rates of both malware detection and real-time virus protection. There’s a Quick Scan function that’ll search your apps and files in your internal phone memory. This scan is over in six seconds. By utilizing the Smart Scan, you can include your external storage (your SD card), and you can also perform a Deep Scan that goes through virtually everything on your device and scans for any dormant malware infection. Of all the apps on this list, ESET scored highest on the AV-TEST concerning detection rates, as it managed to detect 99.9 percent of all malware samples it tested. If you opt out for the premium version, ESET offers a Call & SMS Filter that lets you completely block certain phone numbers, preventing them from sending you texts or calling your phone.
Now you hopefully know just how important cyber security is, as well as everything that you can do in order to bring the security and privacy of your handheld device to an acceptable level. It has become a serious problem and more and more people worldwide are feeling the consequences of malicious cyber attacks. If you use your handheld device on a regular basis, it is absolutely essential to think about security, get yourself a good antivirus app and truly take great care when downloading files. It’s quite possible to effectively protect yourself online if you’re careful enough, and it’s best to think about it before a cyber attack actually happens.
About the Author
Though Adam really loves his job of web developer, he’s also quite passionate about his writing, which is always gladly accepted at wefollowtech.com. As every Texan, he loves spending time outside playing sports with his friends. He may have graduated from college a couple of years ago, but he’s already working on his dream job and couldn’t be happier about it, as well as his new life in Dallas.