Malware Protection: 10 Things You Can Do to Avoid Malware
Our lives are more ‘digital’ than ever. We enjoy benefits like shopping without leaving the house, setting up bank accounts without all the painful paperwork and talking to people on the other side of the world with just one click.
Meanwhile, cyber criminals see dollar signs.
They create malware, or ‘malicious software’ to infect our devices and inflict all kinds of damage such as:
- Stealing personal data
- Spreading malware
- Spying on users’ activity
- Taking control of the device entirely
That’s pretty scary, but let’s face it, our lives aren’t going to become any less ‘digital’. So what can we do to protect ourselves from malware?
As always, prevention is better than cure, and while we’ve shared tips on malware removal in the past, such as how to remove adware, how to remove ransomware and how to remove malware from your Mac, there are things you can do now to help make sure you never have to read them.
Here are 10 simple steps that you can take right now to help you avoid malware.
1. Use a reputable antivirus software
This is your first step. A good antivirus software will cover multiple devices, include expert human support, and won’t track or sell any of your information. Clario’s solution ticks all of these boxes and more, which you can learn about at Clario.co.
2. Keep your operating system up to date
You’ll often be prompted to update your most important programs and operating systems. While you might find them annoying sometimes, interrupting you when you least want it, they are there for a good reason. They usually include some sort of security upgrade, keeping pace with the latest advances in cyber threats and keeping you safe.
3. Remove any outdated software
Over time, it’s not unusual for your Mac or PC to become clogged up with software or programs that you either don’t use any more or didn’t intend to download in the first place. This is called ‘bloatware’ (or sometimes ‘junkware’ or ‘crapware’). Whatever turn of phrase you prefer, this old software tends not to be updated by its creator, leaving your device potentially exposed to a malware attack. Learn more about bloatware and how to find and remove it here.
4. Know how to spot phishing emails
Hackers are master manipulators. When you think of email scams, you might conjure up memories of ‘phishing’ emails from Nigerian princes looking for someone to give all their lovely money to.
These tricks still exist, but hackers have countless other techniques that play on our daily habits and expectations to trick us into downloading malware or handing over personal details. This is known as “social engineering”. To protect yourself from phishing and other social engineering ploys, learn more about phishing emails and how to spot them and from now on, be suspicious of any emails that look unusual or are unexpected, even if they appear to be from someone you know.
5. Avoid clicking suspicious looking links
Whether it’s in an email, on the web or even in a text message, phony links can lure users into downloading malware. Be wary of links that you’ve received from someone you don’t know, in an email you’re suspicious of or that are hidden behind a URL shortener. One way to verify the link is to hover over it with your mouse and check the actual destination.
If you’re unsure, just don’t click.
6. Use strong, unique passwords
Many people underestimate the value of strong and unique passwords. In fact, our research revealed that more than three quarters of millennials use the same password for more than ten different devices, apps, and accounts.
Of course, we know the reason why - multiple passwords can be hard to remember, but nevertheless, it’s important to find a way to use unique passwords.
We recommend learning how to create strong passwords and then using a trusted password manager app to help you keep them safe, secure and remove the need to remember them all.
7. Stick to secure websites
Have you ever noticed the little padlock symbol that sits in front of the page URL you’re viewing. You’ll see it on this page. This signals that the website uses SSL security to encrypt all data transmissions. You’ll also notice some sites begin with http:// and others begin with https://. That ‘s’ is all-important and is another indicator that the site you’re viewing is secure. Always check for the ‘s’ and padlock when submitting any personal data or financial details on a website.
8. Only connect to hardware you trust
The internet is just one means by which malware can infect your device. Hardware such as USB drives can also contain malware so make sure you only connect hardware when you know where it’s from and who’s had access to it.
9. Back up your data
While this won’t prevent a malware attack, it could make your life a whole lot easier should you fall victim. Hackers spread can use ransomware to lock your devices or files and essentially hold them hostage until you pay a large ransom.
However, , if you have been a smart cookie and backed up all of your dataon an external drive or in the cloud, the joke’s on them.
10. Add extra security with a VPN
Coming full circle here in tip number 10. While antivirus is a core part of your security suite, don’t stop there. We’d class a VPN (Virtual Private Network) as a ‘must-have’ in today’s browsing landscape. A VPN gives you an added layer of protection by hiding your IP address to make your browsing anonymous and encrypting your data to keep it secure. Check out Clario VPN to learn more about why a VPN isn’t just for work.
11. Bonus tip! Stay informed with the Clario blog
We’re strong believers that staying informed is just as important as the software and tools you use when protecting your system from malware. That’s why you’ll find the Clario blog constantly updated with the latest news and advice to help you ensure your digital wellbeing.
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