Most people don’t realize the potential of being affected by hackers and cyber risks when online which leads to the need for cybersecurity. The problem with cybercrime is that as a crime it’s severely underestimated, and many don’t even realize that there is a threat and completely disregard or ignore their safety online.
In the past few years, cybercrimes have been occurring with rising frequency all over the world. From spam mail and phishing to ransomware and identity theft, cybercrime can happen to any company, government, or individual. Just last year Yahoo announced that a security breach in 2013 compromised over 1 billion yahoo accounts, revealing information such as names, cell phone numbers, birthdates, passwords, and even security questions.
Another case in 2015, where millions of accounts were affected, is the Ashley Madison hack. A team of hackers known as the Impact Team revealed 37 million users’ information when the Ashley Madison team refused take down the site. Details such as addresses, names, and credit card information were revealed and spread all over the internet. A recent survey also revealed that though much strides has been made to make credit card and online payments secure, more than 60% of internet users are still afraid of cyber-attacks.
These attacks show that if large companies like Yahoo could be targeted, there’s no saying that it won’t happen to us.
As laptops are more accessible than smartphones and less unwieldy compared to desktop PCs, they’re more likely to be physically tampered with than other devices. Disregarding the possibility of theft, your laptop can be easily hacked with just a USB stick and some malware if left unattended.
That being said, here are some simple ways to keep your laptop and the data kept on it secure.
Consider Two-Factor Authentication
As the name implies, two-factor authentication means that after inputting your password there is another step involved in logging in, usually a text message to your mobile giving you a special code. Therefore, if someone is able to guess your password, they can’t login to your account without alerting you.
A bit of an inconvenience for some, but worth it if you’re worried about your safety online, and honestly, what’s a few seconds of bother compared to your safety.
Install Some Form of Anti-Virus Software
Pretty self-explanatory, anti-virus software regularly scans your laptop for viruses and potential malware threats. Most anti-virus software has free trials or free versions so maybe consider installing one.
For those with Windows 10, the general consensus is that the Windows Security software that comes with it is a good enough security system, but for those worried it’s not enough, you can also install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a free anti-malware program that allows you to manually scan your system for whatever Windows Security might have missed. Furthermore, do consider installing an anti-virus application on your smartphones too. Malwarebytes delivers virus protection to your Android devices – samsung phones, cherry mobile phones, cloudfone and etc.
Use a Different Password for Everything
Most of us have one or two passwords that we use for everything but this is actually an extremely risky move and can be dangerous if someone figures out the password for your email that you also use for your bank account. If you have trouble coming up with new password maybe consider using a password generator and if you’re afraid of forgetting them.
Choose a Strong Password
Most of us use passwords that have some meaning to us, like our birthdays or middle names, so it’s easier to remember, but the unfortunate flipside of that is that it makes it easier for hackers to guess our passwords and exploit them.
To counter that many people have taken to using password managers, we recommend LastPass, which saves and remembers your passwords of different accounts so that you won’t have to.
Be Wary of Email Attachments
Anyone with an email account has gotten spam mail before, maybe even fallen for one or two scams or downloaded a virus by accident. Email viruses are one of the oldest security threats, right next to the “Click Here To Win!” pop ups from when the internet was still new. Even though you might think you know better, the truth is anyone can to fall victim to malware attacks. Virus senders have taken to disguising malware as email attachments, which is innocuous enough that most of us don’t even think before clicking to download them.
To eliminate the possibility of downloading malware, make sure to keep a look out for emails from strangers or ones that look suspicious. Usually Google scans the attachments you receive and warns you against downloading them, so try to heed the warnings.
Don’t Reveal Every Little Information about Yourself on Social Media
We use social media a lot, and unthinkingly, we share information about ourselves online that could be used against us in ways we don’t realize. Locations, phone numbers, birthdates, can all be used to guess our passwords if we aren’t careful with what information we share online. Try making private information about yourself sparse on your social media profiles, or at least be more careful when accepting friend requests on Facebook if you can help it.
Have a Good Firewall
You probably know what a firewall is but have no idea how it works or what exactly it is. Basically, a firewall is a program that tracks the information coming in from online to your laptop or private network. It filters out the information packets that is deemed unsafe and stops it from coming through.
There are two types of firewalls, hardware and software. A hardware firewall is usually built into your router and already turned on. Software firewalls are usually enabled by default on your laptop but if for some reason, it’s turned off, here’s how you can turn it on again.
Never Leave Your Laptop Unattended
As previously mentioned, laptops are easy to steal, which is even more dangerous if you don’t have a password locking it. It only takes a few seconds for someone to install some malicious software while you’re in the toilet, not to mention just picking it up and walking away with you none the wiser. Ensure that there’s always someone keeping an eye on it if you can’t do it yourself, or at least install some kind of tracking device on it.