Want to secure your computer against cyber threats? I will show you how to do just that in this post.
It will please you to know that my old Toshiba laptop was attacked before (about 6 years ago) by some memory-increasing virus. Then, I had to format my PC and lost some important files and data. Also, there was no backup. But that won’t happen again!
Before we proceed, let me show you what cyber threats really are.
What Are Cyber Threats?
Cyber threats are possible dangers which exploit system vulnerability in order to destroy data or the information system. Also, we can define cyber threats as services or connections that cause damages to networks, computers, and more.
Besides that, the intention of cyber threats varies across different levels. For instance, students, home PC users, business users, etc. may experience different form of cyber threats based on their computer usage.
Types Of Cyber Threats
The following are different types of cyber threats:
It is well known that normal programs on a computer function well without causing harm to the system resources. Computer virus on the other hand, is a malicious code capable of replicating itself to another program or PC in order to damage the PC.
In addition, there are more than 20 types of computer virus as well which can cause a series of harm to your computer. Due to its replicative nature, computer virus is one of the most common cyber threats.
Malware is the term for “malicious software” which are computer programs designed to cause malicious damage to computers – without the users’ knowledge. Other cyber threats that can be classified as malware includes Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs), ransomware, adware, spyware, keylogger, and Rootkits.
DOS and DDOS attack
Denial of Service (DOS) attack occurs from a single source targeting the victim’s resources in order to make it (temporarily) unavailable. Distributed Denial of Service (DOS) attack on the other hand, originates from multiple sources. Sites or services such as social network, banks, government sites, etc. are common targets for this kind of cyber threat.
Cybercriminals utilize several techniques to acquire sensitive information such as login details, credit card details, etc. by disguising as a genuine entity. For instance, fraudsters clone bank internet webpages, social network login pages, payment gateways, etc in order to collect sensitive information from the user.
SQL injection is a kind of attack which targets dynamic websites that utilizes SQL database. The attacker may use a series of data code insertion in order to manipulate/access the backend (i.e. the database). Moreover, dynamic websites are prone to this kind of threat.
In cyber security, the Trojan horse is not the wooden horse statue by the Greeks but rather a “disguising computer program”. Trojan horses can be acquired from seemingly genuine sources but in the background, they perform innocuous activity bringing heavy damages to your computer and data.
Man-in-the-middle (MITM) attack enables the perpetrator to eavesdrop on electronic communication between the two targets. In addition, the attacker might either intercept communications actively or passively.
In the active interception scenario, the attacker may modify the message sent from source A to B or send a message to source B while disguising as source A. While in the passive interception scenario, the attacker might just eavesdrop on the communication between the targets. Popular MITM attacks include HTTPS spoofing, DNS spoofing, Wi-Fi hijacking, IP spoofing, etc.
Common Sources Of Cyber Threats
Cyber threats emanates from the following sources:
Malware authors bent on causing damages to other information systems may design destructive viruses for that purpose.
For financial gains, botnet operators provide cyber attackers or perpetrators with their bot-network to facilitate cyber-attacks.
Some nations may engage in cyber war in order to show off their cybersecurity prowess.
Some infamous terrorist organizations orchestrate several forms of cyber attacks in order to unleash violence on people.
Many computer users have fallen victim to fraudsters who manipulate them into giving up their money or sensitive information – while posing as genuine sources.
Any individual within an organization may knowingly or accidentally expose the organization’s information system to cyber threats.
There are organized criminal groups with sophisticated technologies who are hell-bent on perpetrating different forms of cybercrimes on the internet. Such cybercrimes include spamming, scamming, pornography distribution, human trafficking, stalking, online libel, and more.
Tools To Prevent Cyber Attacks
Below are some tools you can use to prevent cyber attacks:
Antivirus tools are popular and you should know their use already. These tools help detect and protect against viruses and malware. Viruses and malware are among the major malicious means hackers use to carry out cyber attacks. Such attacks are tagged very deadly as they can spread from one computer to another and thus can affect an entire company’s database from a single infection.
The work of a firewall is to stop people from accessing your computer via network connections without your consent. This could be through Wi-Fi or internet connection and anyone looking to access your computer using such means without authorization is likely to be a hacker. It is reported that hackers invade users’ computers every 39 seconds on average.
VPNs are also popular tools whose uses are widely known. The primary reason why you need a VPN to prevent a cyber attack is because of the strong encryption to provide. Secured VPNs prevent data leaks such that it’ll be almost impossible for anyone to spy on data or information that you send and receive on the internet.
Penetration testing tools are used to test your cyber security protocols for issues or vulnerabilities. Such tools work as if your computer is being hacked because they try to penetrate your website or computer just like a hacker would. If they penetrate successfully, you’ll figure out the vulnerability and fix it so they won’t be open when a real hacker tries to penetrate.
Best Practices To Secure Your Computer Against Cyber Threats
Have you encountered any cybersecurity threat recently?
The number of increasing cyber threats every day is alarming. However, I will show you some of the best practices that you can implement today to secure your computer against cyber threats.
Use a strong Antivirus program and anti-malware solution
Antivirus programs are designed to detect and neutralize cyber threats on your computer. You can install strong Antivirus programs such as Kaspersky, Avast, Heimdal Security, Bullguard, and more.
In addition, you can boost your computer security by making use of anti-malware solutions such as Malwarebytes, etc. With these implementations, you can keep your computer secure against emerging cyber threats.
Update your Operating System and software applications
Operating System (OS) companies such as Apple and Windows constantly release updates which contains patches that can prevent the latest security threats. If you are using an outdated OS, your computer might be vulnerable against impending threats from the internet.
In order to update your Operating System in Windows, do this:
- Go to Start
- Type Windows update in the search box and click on it.
- Next, click on search for latest updates and then install the updates
- Restart your PC after that.
Alternatively, you can also update your third-party software applications on your PC to the latest version. Besides, latest software versions are known to be devoid of issues. Make use of software updater programs such as GlarySoft Software Updater, IObit Software Updater, Driver Easy, and more.
Firewall protects your computer against unauthorized connections from gaining access or control. Popular Operating Systems such as Windows, Mac OS, Linux, etc comes with built-in firewall. For instance, Windows OS comes with Windows Firewall.
If your built-in firewall is not active, you need to enable it for additional protection. For Windows users, go to Start > Windows Firewall > Enable Firewall.
Alternatively, some antivirus programs incorporate ‘Firewall’ software which may require activation or premium subscription. You can also utilize any third-party firewall software such as ZoneAlarm, Glasswire, SyGate Personal Firewall, PeerBlock, etc.
Use disk encryption tools
Disk encryption software allows you to encrypt all (or part) of your storage disk thereby preventing your information from being accessed by unauthorized users. Windows OS comes with the ‘Bitlocker’ disk encryption tool which requires activation to encrypt your disk drive.
Also, you can utilize free or paid disk encryption tools such as VeraCrypt, FileVault 2, WinEncrypt, idoo File Encryption, etc.
Make use of VPN
If you connect to public Wi-Fi every now and then, you might be prone to MITM cyber threat. The best way to protect your online identity and ensure privacy is to utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Use Standard User Account for your online activity
Another practice to keep your computer safe and secure is to use a standard account. If you’re using a single administrator account on your PC for software installation, online browsing, etc, then you may have a lot to use incase your computer is hijacked.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you create a standard account (local account) for online browsing activity. Follow through this guide to do this.
Use secure web browsers
Some popular web browsers over the years have been faced with ‘privacy controversies’. Not only that, some browser add-ons downloaded from official web browser’ repositories have been discovered later to be malware or even PUPs. While it is recommended to install your antivirus add-on within your web browser, you can also make use of secure web browsers.
Epic browser, Tor, Dooble, among others have been termed as secure web browsers due to their privacy features.
Practice good password management
Password is a secret phrase that is used to gain access to a system or service. Many computer users make use of the same password over and over again. What this implies is that – once your password is compromised on a platform, then all your accounts on other platforms can be compromised.
On the other hand, here are good password management tips for you:
- Make use of password management services such as RoboForm, KeePass, LastPass, Dashlane, etc.
- Use strong password generator.
- Make use of long passwords with a strong mix of characters (at least 18 characters or more). Remember, you don’t have to cram them.
- Don’t share your password online or any other platform. I have come across website cPanel logins on public forums. Don’t do it!
- Update your passwords at least once every 90 days.
Backup your files
You need to back up your personal files periodically to avoid data loss in case of computer crash. You can utilize cloud storage services or external hard drive (or USB drives) to back up your sensitive files.
Beware of the websites you visit
Avoid visiting pornographic or dodgy websites. Besides, many porn websites or free download sites are virtual nests for all kinds of cyber threats. You don’t want to download that free software from a porn website; other computer users who have done so downloaded computer viruses. Make use of website filtering tools such as NetNanny, SafeSurf, Netsanity, etc to filter out bad websites from your web browser.
What Are The Biggest Cyber Threats in 2020?
There are various threats in the cybersecurity world. Here, we’ll be looking at them from different perspectives.
In 2020, one of the biggest cyber threats is cloud vulnerability. Cloud applications and platforms are being used now more than ever. With data on the cloud, they stay on the internet, and if not well secured, they can be breached easily; more easily than if the data were stored locally.
Also, AI which is at its most developmental level is being used advantageously and otherwise. Hackers can use AI to send intelligent ransomware attacks that could prove very destructive.
Security experts will have to deal with social engineering as well. Phishing and other social engineering attacks are invoked in 2020 as they have in the previous years if not more.
What Are The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats Facing Companies?
Companies continue to deal with phishing as their major cybersecurity threat. The numbers have been increasing year after year and as of 2018, about 83% of companies attested to being victims of phishing attacks.
Another major threat in cyber security for companies is ransomware attacks which just as phishing has been on an increasing trend. So much of spam mails are being sent to corporate emails of companies and a click on a link on these emails makes the system vulnerable. Sometimes, these can be caused by third-party vendors if their security system is not top-notch.
Network eavesdropping or Man-in-the-middle attacks pose a strong threat to companies too. Public establishments are the most targeted when it comes to network eavesdropping. Hackers thrive to intercept messages to steal and utilize any valuable information they can from them.
What Are The Threats In The Cyber World?
From a general view, the cyber threats in the cyber world are limitless. The one above all, however, is malware. More than 300,000 new malware is being created daily to show how prominent the threat is. Hackers use malware to majorly steal sensitive data. Trojans, worms, and ransomware attacks are all malware attacks.
Vulnerabilities are also a major threat in the cyber world. Without hardware or software vulnerabilities, it’ll be almost impossible for a system to be a victim of a malware attack. Vulnerabilities are very difficult to trace because almost every software requires an upgrade from time to time.
All major threats in the cyber world often point to one end which is data breaching. No matter the tactic used, cyber criminals are always focused on stealing important data that they can use to control or impersonate an online platform.
What Are The Most Common Cyber Attacks?
In today’s internet, the most common cyber attack is phishing as password thefts and online account hacks have been on the rise. Statistics show that more than 650,000 cases of identity theft were recorded in 2019 and that identify theft made up about 20.33% of about 3.2 million fraud cases.
A 2019 annual crime report by Herjavec Group showed that at least one business organization falls prey to ransomware attacks every 14 seconds making it one of the most common cyber attacks. These ransomware attacks have continued to rise and the time is expected to reduce to 11 seconds by the year 2021 if nothing is done by security experts.
Other common cyber attacks include DDoS attacks, virus infection, and SQL injection.
10 Alarming Cyber Security Facts And Statistics
So many things happen in the cyber security world that is surprising as well as shocking. Here are 10 alarming cyber security facts and statistics that’ll spike your interest:
- Every 39 seconds, there is a hack attack. This is on average and from a study by a Clark School assistant professor, Michael Cukier.
- Small businesses are the major prey of cyber criminals. Statistics show that out of 64% of companies who have been victims of cyberattacks, 43% were small businesses.
- About 500 million personal records were stolen by hackers in 2018. It was just about 200 million stolen the previous year.
- 44 personal records are being stolen from data breaches every second. That’s 2,645 every minute, 158,727 every hour, and about 3.8 million per day.
- Malware attacks have been witnessed by more than 75% in healthcare organizations. Proven from a report examining 700 organizations.
- By 2021, the cost of cyber attacks is expected to rise to $6 trillion per year as reported by Forbes.com.
- More than $1 trillion will be injected into fighting cyber security threats by the year 2021.
- About 95% of data breaches are caused by individuals rather than IT departments.
- It takes about 6 months for some organizations to discover data breaches, even the big dogs like Facebook.
- About 300 billion passwords are being used globally in 2020. Social media accounts contribute majorly to this number.
How Much Cell Phone Data Privacy Should We Expect?
With social engineering on the rise, cell phone data privacy is more important now than it ever was. There are various ways by which your cell phone data can be tracked from GPS, social media accounts, and other online accounts. As an individual using a cell phone, you should have total control of your data. However, securing your data is up to you as the cell phone user and less should be expected from service providers.
How Do You Ensure Cyber Security?
Ensuring cyber security is an everyday thing as one slip can prove fatal. Hackers are constantly monitoring looking for the slightest opportunity to strike. There are common cyber security measures you can apply such as making use of strong passwords (8 to 12 character long passwords with a combination of alphabets, numbers, and symbols) and using anti-virus/malware detecting software. A VPN can also be advantageous for anonymity.
Do You Think Your Expensive Enterprise Antivirus Software Will Protect You?
The protection you get from an antivirus software depends on its virus and malware detecting capabilities, not on its cost. People often perceive that the more expensive an antivirus is, the better it will perform. Whereas most high performing antivirus is expensive, they’ll not do the job to 100% if you do not play your part. This involves carrying regular virus scans, keeping software up to date, and being mindful of downloads from the internet.
How Does Your Organization Currently Identify Cybersecurity Threats?
Most organizations face the cyber attack detection challenge. One of the alarming cyber security facts, as mentioned earlier, is that it takes some organizations up to 6 months to discover data breaches. Identifying cybersecurity threats does not have to be difficult as there are automated cybersecurity software and solutions your organization can use.
Cyber Security Skills Gap In 2020
In this section, we’ll be looking at how the cybersecurity skills gap stands in 2020.
Cyber Security Skills Gap
In 2020, the skills gap in cybersecurity is well wide. According to Helpnetsecurity, about 2.8 million cybersecurity experts are needed in the market while an additional 4.07 million professionals are needed as trained staff. Also, they reported that about 65% of organizations attest to being short of cybersecurity despite about 48% willing to scale up the amount invested in cybersecurity education and training programs.
Research from UKTech showed that at least one new cybersecurity business is being established in the UK. Furthermore, more than 43,000 people work as full-time staff in cybersecurity. These show that while there are more positions to fill in the cybersecurity industry, the number of skilled staff available is low.
How To Reduce Security Staff Turnover?
The number one cause of staff turnover when it comes to cybersecurity is a lack of skill. Most persons when unable to handle the security duties which they were employed to do tend to resign or employers forced to terminate their contracts. To reduce security staff turnover, the number one thing to do is to employ the right people.
The people you employ to handle cybersecurity tasks at your company should be cybersecurity experts. People who have the skills and can handle what they signed up for. Also, you should arrange for cybersecurity education from time to time to enlighten the staff and keep them focused on a career path.
Are There Jobs In Cyber Security?
The cybersecurity industry is a vast one so there are thousands of jobs available. Below are some of the job positions available in cybersecurity.
- Security Administrator
- Security Specialist
- Security Manager
- Security Architect
- Security Analyst
- Security Auditor
- Security Consultant
- Security Engineer
- Penetration Tester
- Incident Responder
- Vulnerability Assessor
- Forensic Expert
Not only are there many job positions in cybersecurity, the demand for staff is also on the high side. Working in a cybersecurity position requires skill and professionalism; fewer people are willing to acquire these skills.
Does Cyber Security Pay Well?
The amount you’ll be paid for a cybersecurity job position depends on the position you hold. According to CWJobs, the average salary of a cybersecurity staff per annum is $75,730. This is just a shy of the average yearly salary of workers in the US which stands at about $87,000. Some cybersecurity professionals earn up to about $125,000 – $200,000 and even above per annum. These are professionals working in the highest-paid cybersecurity job positions such as Cybersecurity Engineers, Information Security Managers, Application Security Engineer, Network Security Engineer, etc. Third-party vendors who offer cybersecurity services to organizations generate revenue in millions and billions.
Do Cybersecurity Graduates Possess The Skills Employers Need?
Cybersecurity graduates are expected to possess the skills employers need. The essence of taking up a cybersecurity course is, of course, to acquire these skills and upon certification, they should be well-learned in their study-field. Examinations and assessments help ensure that a cybersecurity graduate acquires the needed skills before he or she is issued a certificate. At the basic level, cybersecurity graduates should be able to identify various cybersecurity issues and know how to write custom scripts.
Finally, connecting your computer to the internet is a risk. However, you should not be disconnected from the internet due to the fear of cyber threats.
The cybersecurity industry is expanding year after year. As more and more network technologies are being developed, their security becomes just as important as their usage.
Skilled cybersecurity staff should be able to handle these cybersecurity responsibilities respective to their field. All it takes is sourcing for the right staff, ensuring moderate pay, and providing proper education.
Finally, by applying the best practices we enumerated in this guide, you are setting up a secure blitz against myriads of cyber threats. Also, you will be able to secure your computer against cyber threats.
Share your cybersecurity issues with us by commenting below.
Note: This post was originally published in August 2019, but has been updated for freshness and accuracy.