Welcome Turk Hack Team, we'll take a look at protecting yourself.
People often think of computer security as something technical and complicated. And when you get into the nitty-gritty, it can bebut the most important stuff is actually very simple. Here are the basic, important things you should do to make yourself safer online.
Enable Automatic Updates
All the software we use every day is likely riddled with security issues. These security issues are constantly being foundwhether were talking about Windows, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, the Adobe Flash plugin, Adobes PDF Reader, Microsoft Officethe list goes on and on.
These days, a lot of operating systems and programs come with automatic updates to close these security holes. No longer do you need to click a button or download a file to update your software; itll update itself in the background without any input from you.
Some people like to turn this off for one reason or another. Maybe you dont like that Windows restarts after installing an update, or maybe you just dont like change. But from a security perspective, you should always leave automatic updates on.
If you have turned off automatic updates previously, for any of your software, go turn them on right now, and then come back to this. Good job.
Keeping your computer up-to-date is the number one way to keep it safe against online threats. Microsoft provides updates for Windows and associated Microsoft products (Defender, Office) on the second Tuesday of each month. Apple doesnt have a regimented schedule, but they also regularly provide updates. These updates not only fix bugs, but they patch security holes. So the only way to protect yourself against the latest known vulnerabilities is by updating. Malicious attackers are always looking for unpatched systems they can attack, and automatic updates keeps you off the list of low hanging fruit.
Use Antivirus and Anti-Malware
It seems like every couple of years an article will come out saying one antivirus is the absolute best. Three more will follow saying three others outperformed the first. On top of these, some security expert will write an article saying antivirus is no longer relevant and youre dumb if you use it.
Lets set the record straight: you should be running antivirus, even if youre careful on the web. Which one? Its up to youthough when it comes to free, simple, and good, theres nothing wrong with using Windows Defender. Its built in to Windows, it updates automatically with the Windows Update utility, it has no discernible impact on performance, and its free. To be effective, an antivirus application need to integrate with the operating system on a very deep level. Who better to know the internals of Windows than the people who built it? Plus, it wont try to sell you other products or inject other features you dont need, like some antivirus programs do.
If you spend time on the shadier corners of the internet, you may want something a bit stronger, like Avira or Kaspersky, but for most home users, Windows Defender should be fine.
However, in addition to antivirus, we also recommend using Malwarebytes alongside your antivirus. Just like your belt can use a good pair of suspenders to give it a little help, applications like Malwarebytes can provide extra protection against malicious software that traditional antivirus products may not identify. Malicious programs like browser re-directors and advertisement injectors behave exactly like some known legitimate network filters. Theyre not technically viruses, but you definitely dont want them. Anti-malware applications can help you with those. Malwarebytes is $40 per year, but you can get some of its features for free.
With that one-two punch combo, you should be safe from a lot of the threats out there.
Craft Better Passwords, and Automate Them
You probably know passwords are important, but you probably dont know how importantand how terrible most peoples passwords actually are.
Heres the thing: were no longer in the olden days of the internet, where you can just use the same password everywhere and call it a day. Services get hacked all the time, and if youre using the same password everywhere, youve given someone access to all of your accounts when one service leaks information. You need to use long passwords and you need to use different ones on every site and service.
To do this, I recommend everyone use a password manager like LastPass. Itll automatically generate passwords for you, save them securely in one central place, and even automatically insert them for you as you browse.
You should also have a password on your computer and a passcode on your phone, too. I know, I know, its inconvenient. But while it may take a few seconds longer than just hitting one button, its an easy and important way to keep your information secure. Having a password on your computer and phone will stop random people from just picking up and using your device.
Think of all the information on your cell phone. Now think of all the websites youre logged into on your computer. Would you want a stranger having all that access? Do you know how easy it is to lose your phone or laptop? You need to have a password on your computer and phone. No exceptions.
But thats not all. A good password is like a really good lock on the door, but locks can be picked. Adding encryption turns that door into a bunker. If you encrypt your computer or phone, you prevent thieves from getting to your data by other more advanced means. We recommend using BitLocker on Windows if you have Windows Pro or Enterprise, or VeraCrypt if you have Windows Home. Mac users should turn on FileVault. If youre running Windows Home, something like Veracrypt is a good option for you. iPhones and Android phones are usually encrypted by default these days, but you can double check in the settings to be sure.
Never Leave Your Phone or Computer Unattended
This may seem obvious, but it deserves saying: never, ever, ever leave your computer or phone unattended in public. On your coffee table in your house? Sure. On your table at Starbucks? No way. Doing so is asking for it to be stolen.
If your device gets stolen, the best case scenario is you losing your expensive device. But if you leave something unattended and you havent followed all of the above advice, the worst case scenario is that someone has your expensive gadget and all of your personal information. All it takes is a kid with slightly-more-than-basic computer knowledge to get at all your data, and if they have your computer in their hands, its a lot easier (if you dont use encryptionsee above).
Know Which Links Are Safe to Click in Emails
You hear it all the time: dont open emails from people you dont know, and dont click on links in emails you dont trust. But that isnt enough. A lot of times, malicious links can come from friends who have been infected, or from emails that look legitimate, but are actually fake. This is known as phishing.
If you want to be truly secure, you could never click on links in emails. But thats not realistic or convenient, although we do recommend against clicking email links to sensitive documénts like your banks website. Just head to your banks website normally. For other links in emails, the middle ground option is knowing how to investigate a link before you click on ityes, even ones from your friends.
First, check is if this link goes where it says it goes. If you hover your cursor over the link, the destination should pop up at the bottom of your browser window. If it doesnt, Right-click on the link and select Copy link address. You can then paste this somewhere safe (like a Notepad documént) and examine it.
If the link says ebay.com, but the real destination says ebay.clickme.com, something is suspicious, and you shouldnt click. Remember, just because it has the word ebay in it doesnt mean its going to ebay, eitherit needs to be before that .com to be truly legitimate.
Be Careful About Programs You Download and Run (and Stop Pirating Software)
This tip may also seem obviousyou hear it all the time, and probably think you follow it. But so much of the malware Windows users encounter seems to be as a result of accidentally downloading and installing bad software.
So always be careful about the programs you download and run. Only download and run software thats widely known and trustworthy, or recommended by trustworthy sites. Make sure you always get the software from its official websiteif you want to download VLC, download it from VLCs official website. Dont click a Download VLC banner on another website and download it from someone else that may bundle malware or adware along with it. Even if youre using a search engine, make sure its leading you to the real site.
And, when downloading software, be sure to watch out for advertisement banners disguised as Download links that will take you elsewhere and try to trick you into downloading possibly malicious software. And uncheck any bundled software that comes with a programeven a legitimate one.
Be aware that there are many different types of programsfor example, screensavers in .SCR format are essentially just programs and could contain harmful malware. Weve got a list of 50+ different types of file extensions that are potentially dangerous on Windows.
Lastly, and this should go without saying, but stop pirating software. When you acquire pirated or cracked software from peer-to-peer networks or shady websites, youre taking a big risk. By running an .exe file from such documénts, youre trusting the distributor to not do anything harmful. Worse yet, the cracks you may need to run to make such software work properly are made by software-cracking groups. You cant know if theyve included malware or not.
Dont Trust Your Popup Notifications
Similarly, never download or install something you didnt go looking for. If a website tells you Flash is out of date, Chrome needs to be updated, or a plugin needs to be added, pump your brakes. This is a common trick to get you to install something for an attacker. If you think the pop-up might be legitimate, you still dont want to click on it.
Lets use Flash as an example. A site may give you a warning you need the latest version to get that cat video to play. Instead of clicking the link (or button) to update, do a search for adobe flash and get the update from Adobes official websitenot the popup from catvideos.com.
This applies to tech support, too. Dont believe any site that says its detected a virus on your system (or any calls from Microsoft). If a popup says you have a virus on your computer, dont click on it. Instead, go to your Start menu, open your antivirus program of choice, and run a scan from there instead.