As we spend more time on the Internet to socialize or perform financial transactions, cybercriminals find more opportunities. For instance, the U.N. counterterrorism chief reports a 350% increase in phishing websites in the first quarter of 2020, while INTERPOL points to an alarming spike in cybercrimes since the pandemic began in March.
With so many targets to choose from, cybercriminals prefer easy marks because time is valuable to them. Here are three ways you can protect your computer from the average cybercriminal.
Download the Best Cybersecurity Software
While cybercriminals want you to think that your default cybersecurity software is enough to protect your computer, this isn't the case. For instance, experts find that Windows Defender has a significantly weaker than average detection rate of malicious software like ransomware.
Windows Defender also doesn't protect third-party web browsers, which is dangerous if you're like most Internet users. For instance, Google Chrome accounts for two-thirds of the browser market and suffers from millions of malware attacks.
If you're a Mac user, you also need to beef up your security because Mac malware threats now outpace cyberattacks against Windows by two to one, according to the 2020 State of Malware Report. With countless new malware threats detected every day, it's critical to download the latest antivirus software that uses sophisticated technology to identify malicious behavior.
Your antivirus program should also be lean enough to complement your computer yet powerful enough to offer security 24/7 from cybercriminals that rely on online scams, infected sites, malicious links, and phishing scams to steal your data.
Improve Your Network Security
Strong network security can protect your system from cybercriminals who try to hack into your computer through your network.
- Update your router with the latest firmware to close security holes.
- Set a sophisticated router password.
- Use at least WPA2 or higher to protect your data and network access control.
- Enable your router's firewall to shield your network.
- Enable your operating system's firewall for a second layer of security.
- Subscribe to a cutting-edge Virtual Private Network (VPN) service to secure your network further. Avoid free VPN services at all costs, as they usually carry malware. Check reviews from technology critics to find the right VPN.
Even with the latest cybersecurity software and the most robust network security, you can be an easy target for cybercriminals if you don't adopt common sense. Avoid oversharing information on social media because hackers can use this information to commit identity theft.
You must also learn to identify phishing expeditions to avoid handing over your confidential data unwittingly to online thieves. In addition, set a sophisticated password to keep people with malicious intent out of your accounts.
When traveling, avoid using public WiFi at malls, cafes, and airports because these networks are unsecured and easy targets for hackers. If you must use public WiFi, avoid conducting financial transactions unless you can secure the network with a good VPN service.
Although cybercriminals are growing bolder by the day, you don't have to live your life in fear. With the right software, security settings, and habits, you can avoid becoming a target.