Malware, which is a blend of the words ‘malicious’ and ‘software,’ is any program or file that is used to harm a computer user.
The prominent threat that malware presents could adequately be represented when you think of the internet like a house, complete with windows and doors.
Any responsible housekeeper would make sure that he locked all doors and windows before going to bed.
Similarly, when using the web through any device- a laptop, computer or even your phone- as responsible users, we need to be sure that our devices are safe from malware and other such threats.
When it comes to malware, unlike the standard house burglar, you need to be a bit more cautious and wary of the way you tread on the internet.
Although it may seem to be a bit of a stretch, the web is a much scarier place than the real world, with dangers such as malware and cyber-criminals occupying every dimly lit corner present.
Unlike other cyber-security problems, malware is designed to sneak into your computer without the owner’s knowledge and to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting owner and device.
Getting rid of malware is a fighting a war with an enemy you can’t see, and yes, that might be overwhelming at first. But by taking the precautions mentioned below, you’re all set to protect your device from malware.
1- Keep your system updated:
We’ve all had those pesky notifications popping up on our screens, reminding us of updating our operating systems, and all of us have the same revised response- postpone till tomorrow.
However, a device having outdated software is like a box of chocolates for hackers and malware.
To ensure and protect your device against malware, one of the most manageable steps you could take is to make sure that you’re Operating System and anti-virus software is up to date.
Outdated software is like a ticking time bomb. It is full of exploitable vulnerabilities that allows easy access to hackers to do whatever they may please with data, which belongs to you.
Similarly, malware can easily be transmitted to a computer with outdated software through specific bugs, which are usually eradicated whenever a system goes through with an update.
A malware-infected device is not only a threat to the device it has infected but to every computer that your device exchanges data with.
In recent times, WannaCry and ransomware style malware has been utilized by cyber-criminals to keep essential data belonging to individuals or companies as a hostage until payment has been made to retrieve the information stolen.
Furthermore, some other disadvantages of using an outdated Operating system and anti-virus software include:
- You risk your computer becoming slow, or lagging and performing poorly.
- Outdated software prevents your computer from communicating with other devices effectively.
2-Don’t install or run an untrustworthy program:
If you’re a tech-savvy person or even have the most basic knowledge of how the internet functions, you might be rolling your eyes at the inclusion of such a basic rule as a point.
But, whether you believe it or not, some people are so new to the world of technology and the web that they make such rookie mistakes.
Whenever you find yourself browsing through the web, and suddenly, out of nowhere, a pop-up appears, asking you to download or run a program.
Most people would flex their common sense and click on ‘no,’ however, some people would do the opposite and risk compromising their safety, as well as having their devices infected by malware.
In the instance, you permit an unknown source to run its program; you are primarily serving all your sensitive information on a plate for malware to attack.
The only time that you should allow access to an application or program is when you are entirely sure of the source that it came for.
Moreover, if it’s absolutely necessary that you run an illegitimate program, the least you can do is to run it through the anti-virus software installed on to your device.
However, users of the internet need to be aware of the harsh consequences that running a sketchy program can have.
3- Avoid spam emails and rogue email attachments:
In the 21st century, you might be thinking that hackers would have found new ways to distress the entire internet population, much to our anguish, they still rely heavily on the old school method of sending sketchy email attachments.
Malware usually sneaks into your computer in the form of email attachments, generally present in the spam folder.
If you’re a regular recipient of spam emails, you’re probably most likely to delete the email without even clicking on it- which is precisely what you should do in a scenario like this.
However, more recently, hackers and other third-party people with malicious intent, have designed spam email in such a way that it looks like it’s from a legitimate source, such as your bank. A thorough inspection of the email will reveal its failings.
So, whenever you’re going through your inbox, make sure that you steer clear of such illegitimate emails that could end up costing you a fortune.
4- Avoid using open Wi-Fi networks:
Fewer things are as seductive as a free and open Wi-fi connection.
Imagine this; you walk into a fast food court, and the first thing that you notice is the notification on your phone informing you of the miracle it just encountered. It is an open, public Wi-Fi connection.
Most of us, wouldn’t even bat an eye when it comes to connecting; however, let me inform you that you should be careful.
Just like you were able to connect to the network, in a matter of seconds, imagine how easy it must be for experienced hackers to invade and corrupt the system with malware.
Recently, researchers have pointed out that open Wi-Fi networks are highly susceptible to malware attacks.
Therefore, the next time you get an unexplainable urge to scroll through your Instagram feed while shopping at a mall, try to remind yourself that free Wi-Fi puts your devices at a higher risk of malware.
5- Create complex passwords:
Passwords typically serve as the key to all of your email and social media accounts, which is where you store the most of your sensitive information.
Imagine if a hacker gained access to your email account, all because of your password- which was as simple as ‘12345.’
If a similar incident occurred to you, you wouldn’t be the first person to face such a plight. Millions of users give in to laziness and end up creating passwords such as ‘Qwerty’ and ‘password,’ for multiple accounts.
If you want to prevent hackers from inserting unknown malware, (which you probably do since you’re reading this article), try to create a complex and sophisticated password for different accounts.
Ideally, your password should contain approximately 8-10 characters, with a collection of different letters and symbols to guarantee maximum security.
Now, that you know about malware and how to prevent your devices from it, you need to make sure that the next time you browse through the internet, you browse securely, without putting your sensitive information at risk.