By Protecting Yourself from Malware, You Protect Others
As a society, it is our collective responsibility to come together to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
This determination to do our bit during the coronavirus pandemic should also extend to include our digital security.
You’ve probably heard about herd immunity. The term is kind of diminishing (we aren’t a herd, we’re individuals!), but it stands for a very important concept. Herd immunity exists when the larger part of the population is immune to a disease, and can therefore indirectly protect those who aren’t.
This community immunity is vital, but it isn’t just in the real world where we need this collective protection. Our data privacy depends on it as well.
Treat malware like real-life viruses
It’s easy to see how shared responsibility works online when you use real viruses as examples.
Let’s imagine an infectious disease, like COVID-19, chickenpox, or the flu. If a person contracts this illness, they may spread it, knowingly or unknowingly. But if more people get vaccinated, avoid crowds, stay home, and generally behave more cautiously, they are far less likely to get sick and spread the infection.
Ultimately, it’s essential to protect yourself in order to protect others.
Malware needs to be viewed in the same way. If you fail to treat digital security seriously, so you don’t install anti-malware software, frequently use public Wi-Fi, and download questionable files, then you are at risk of getting infected. The virus may then target your friends or your employer’s corporate network and infect them too. And then their friends or colleagues. This chain reaction is a cybersecurity nightmare that, once started, is hard to stop.
Had you been protected, the virus wouldn’t have spread in the first place. The same goes for your friend and coworker. The more people protected, the better digital security we can rely on.
The consequences of (your computer’s) viral infection
We all know that contracting a digital virus is bad. We also know that it’s better to cough in your elbow, but how many of us either forget or continue to use the palms of our hands instead?
The point is, even if you know something, it doesn’t mean that you understand its importance - and the consequences.
Here is what malware can do once it has infected your device:
- steal your private information (from bad selfies to your bank account password)
- use up all the space on your Mac (and do it so quickly, you won’t even have time to reboot the system to try and stop it)
- control your applications (they may start working incorrectly or transfer your data to cybercriminals)
- completely break down your office or home network
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The leaking of your bank account information or any other sensitive data may lead to the blocking of your account or theft of your money. A broken corporate network can put the work (and data) of hundreds of employees at risk.
On top of that, you might participate in distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS) without even knowing. This is a malicious attack by hackers to flood the computer or network of a victim with so many requests, it becomes unresponsive.
How to ensure digital security?
By now, you already know two things:
- Why herd immunity is critical for digital security
- Digital viruses are vicious and avoiding them is better than treating
The last piece of this puzzle is knowing how to protect yourself (and others) from malware.
Here are a couple of tips from Clario:
- Improve your cybersecurity awareness. When you understand how things work, what websites are safe, and where you can access secure software, your levels of online protection will increase. BTW, the Clario blog is the perfect place for educating yourself on digital security.
- Install anti-malware software on your computers and other devices. This is the digital equivalent of giving your data and network a vaccination. So make sure to update it and keep up with the latest ones.
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Your digital security concerns more than you alone. All the people who are in your network, your contacts, your friend lists - they all depend on how diligent you are in maintaining a healthy digital life.
Do your bit and stay safe out there…
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