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Common Security Threats and How to Secure your Windows PC

As technology continues to advance, hackers enhance their skills in using advanced malware and viruses. Cybersecurity threats have become more dangerous over the past few years, making it more difficult for computer users to keep up with data protection methods.

To be able to protect your PC and your data, you first need to be able to identify possible threats. This can only be achieved when you take the time to learn about the latest trends. Once you can identify a threat, you are better placed to come up with the best solution. Even though viruses are becoming increasingly hard to detect, there are tools and strategies you can use to beat virus threats.

Here is everything you need to know about PC threats and how to protect yourself.

The most dangerous cybersecurity risks facing PC users in 2021

Phishing

Of all cybersecurity threats, phishing is the most commonly used and easiest to deploy. It is also one of the most damaging attacks for any PC user. According to statistics, at least 82% of all data breaches occur through phishing attacks. This technique takes advantage of human error and negligence to gain access to valuable information.

As a type of social engineering attack, phishing is used to lure unsuspecting victims into giving out their private information or data access credentials. In common phishing attempts, hackers will email, text, or call their victims pretending to be a friend, family, or colleague requesting information to complete a task.

Botnets attacks

Computers and computing devices can be conscripted to botnets and later used for malicious activities. Most of the time, a user is not even aware their computer has been made part of a botnet.

While botnets have been a threat since the 90s, it is set to grow in 2021, especially now that most homes are being turned into smart homes through smart home automation. Most of the gadgets connected to a smart home network come with poor security protocols, making them vulnerable to conscription.

Man-in-the-middle attacks

Since 2016, Shadow Brokers, a mysterious cyber crime syndicate, has engaged in dangerous cyber crime activities that involve leaking and stealing cyber weapons commonly used by the US CIA and NSA. According to reports, this criminal group gets support from intelligence agencies in Russia.

Through these cyber weapons, hackers can perfect the man-in-the-middle attacks ranging from controlling electronic devices, including computers, and eavesdropping on digital communications. A MITM attack involves hackers sniffing for important data transmitted from PCs to internet apps and websites.

Ransomware

In 2017, the WannaCry ransomware cyber attack almost brought the world to a stop. This attack infected more than 200,000 computers globally and brought down critical mechanisms and services under the UK National Health Service. Other companies that were infected included the Deutsche Bahn in Germany and Teléfonica in Spain and a few others in Russia.

A ransomware attack is simply a malware program meant to take over your computer and demand a ransom to release the system or files.

In the WannaCry attack, the hackers used an NSA warfare weapon to launch the attacks. The malware encrypted files in the hard drive of a computer. Once done, the malware would devise a ransom note demanding payment through cryptocurrency to release the files. Most companies opted to make the payment for fear of losing critical data.

Crypto-jacking

This is a relatively new cyber-security threat used to utilize computer resources to mine cryptocurrency covertly.
In this attack, a hacker sends a malware code to a computer where it secretly utilized the bandwidth and computing resources to mine crypto. In 2021, crypto jacking is expected to increase as hackers find smarter ways to code malware that is not easily detectable by antivirus programs.

Hackers are targeting computers from different regions in the world using IP addresses. Therefore, the best way to avoid this attack is to learn to hide your IP address.

How to protect your PC

Use trusted malware and antivirus programs.

One of the first steps to take to protect your PC is to invest in a good antivirus. There are numerous options in the market, including free versions. To ensure your PC is protected against most attacks, consider getting paid antivirus programs. Even with the best one in the market, always ensure you update the antivirus as soon as a new version is available.

Update your OS

Updating your operating system ensures you get the latest version, which comes with security patches for the previous version vulnerabilities. OS updates decrease your PC’s exposure to possible exploits. Windows is always looking for vulnerabilities in their system and patches for these vulnerabilities. Set your Windows PC to auto-update to ensure you never miss an update.

Most of the people who fell victim to the WannaCry ransomware could have avoided it by having the right antivirus program installed and kept their OS updated.

Secure your network with encryption

As more people continue to adopt wireless technology, personal information is consistently sent over unsecured public networks or networks that are not fully protected. Cyber criminals always look for vulnerabilities in such networks.

The best way to secure your computer’s network is by using a VPN service. What a VPN does is it creates an encrypted tunnel for all the data transferring between your computer and the network you are connected to. Once encrypted, the data is only readable to the intended recipient and appears scrambled to any cyber criminal or third parties trying to snoop in on your data.

Come up with a consistent system backup schedule.

Most malware programs are designed to take over files in your computer, leading to data loss or destruction. By having a periodic backup schedule for your PC, you ensure you have copies of the data in your computer saved on the cloud in case of a breach. You can also backup your data on an external hard drive where you copy all your updated files.

Lookout for social engineering attacks

With so much information on social media platforms, it has become easy for hackers to reach a Victim using phishing attacks. Before clicking on any links or sending o0ut critical data, countercheck the email or text source. Also, take time to find out if your colleague, friend, or family is indeed the one contacting you.

Conclusion

While no one is invulnerable to cyber breaches, these basic guidelines can make your cyber-life much more manageable and less prone to cyber threats.

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