3 ways to improve your computer’s protection
The days of unprotected internet surfing are long behind us. For every advance in virus protection and online security, there is a corresponding increase in the number and vitality of the threats arrayed against it.
The recent success of the WannaCry ransomware attack should be a clear demonstration that better protection is required for all computers. If it isn’t, however, the number of different threats that are arrayed against computers should make even the most security-conscious online user pause.
As the sophistication of the attacks increases, the ability to protect the data on your computer decreases. Security updates are one way to keep abreast of the most current threats, but updates don’t protect your computer from novel attacks and newly developed malware that may attack through unusual channels.
WannaCry used stolen software developed by the NSA to infect and lock computers. Encrypting the data for ransom until the attackers were paid. Although the attack was relatively sophisticated and widespread, the demands and targets showed that the hackers were using tools that they didn’t really understand.
Hurting the Little Guy
$300 ransoms are a relatively painless reminder for most corporations and governments that their security could be better, but for small businesses and individuals, a ransom that size would be more than an inconvenience. Fortunately, a lucky accident revealed an effective, if temporary, defense against the malware, and over the next few days, the damage was limited and data restored.
But the next attack might not be so easily fixed.
A more sophisticated attack, using stolen government-created malware, could hold more than just a handful of computers and servers for ransom. WannaCry affected banks, industries, hospitals and governmental agencies during its run. If hackers develop or adapt a more insidious delivery method, more computers could be affected and the damage caused could be considerably worse.
Protecting Your Computer
Because of the uncertainty of what the next attack will be like, the best way to currently protect your system is to have an updated anti-viral program that is proven to protect your computer from viruses and malware. Any of the established anti-virus companies – Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and so on – make products that, if they are up to date, can protect your computer from common and foreseeable threats.
Protecting your data from threats that are unexpected, on the other hand, can be much more difficult.
- Avoid sketchy websites. Oddly enough, it’s not the porn websites that are the problem anymore. Malware can be downloaded to your computer from websites that look normal and there have been many instances where reputable websites were hijacked to be used as a vehicle for malware. Nevertheless, avoiding websites that are heavy advertisers and insist on cookies is not a bad idea.
- Update and use firewalls. Firewalls are an effective first line of defense against malware, especially for corporations that have multiple computers networked through a server. Malware that infects one computer can spread quickly through a network, infecting all the users.
- Don’t be afraid to admit you may be infected. In zombie movies, the weak link is always the guy who gets bit and then hides it from the rest of the group. He doesn’t want to face the consequences of what has happened, but it always makes everything worse for everyone else. Don’t be that guy. Let your tech support know there may be a problem.
As the developers of FixMe Stick, a USB virus scanner that scans and removes malware from your computer while it is not running said, “Combining traditional virus protection with innovative methods has a much better chance of stopping malware than anything we have seen in the past.”
The hackers are thinking outside of the box, computer users must do the same.