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Computer Security 101: Terms, Threats, and Protection

Cybersecurity pertains to the processes of keeping systems and networks safe from online attacks. It’s the practice of ensuring the safety and confidentiality of personal information like date of birth, social security number, and credit card details. 

The computer is one of the most commonly used devices to access the virtual world. We’ll be sharing below various topics pertaining to computer security including technical terms, dangers, and security strengthening methods.

Common Computer Security Terms

    • Antivirus: Antivirus software is a program to monitor the device, scan and detect possible threats, and prevent those from compromising the device
    • Bot: The bot is the program that executes the commands of the “bot-herder”; “botnet” refers to the computer infected by the bot.
    • Cloud: An online space where files can be stored and accessed anytime, anywhere.
    • Data: Refers to any information which could be in various forms – letters, phrases, codes, numbers, and more.
    • Data Breach: Accessing or acquiring data by force or without the owner’s consent.
    • Data Privacy: Pertains to how private and sensitive information is collected and handled.
    • Data Security: Pertains to the ways on how the confidentiality and integrity of data are secured.
    • Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS): A cyberattack that floods a webpage with malicious multiple data to make it non-functional.
    • Encryption: The process of encoding data, converting plaintext to ciphertext.
    • Firewall: A network security system that serves as a barrier between trusted and untrusted ones.
    • Internet Protocol (IP) Address: This is like the virtual version of your home address; it identifies the device connected to a network. 
    • Malware: Short term for malicious software. It could be in the form of viruses, ransomware, Trojan horse, worm, rootkit, spyware.
    • Two Factor Authentication (2FA): An extra layer of protection to authenticate someone who’s trying to access an app/site.
    • Virtual Private Network (VPN): It allows Internet users to remain anonymous, masking the IP address, and encrypting traffic.

 

Computer Security Dangers

Unfortunately, as technology advances, cybercrimes also evolve. Hackers and fraudsters are constantly altering and enhancing their methods of penetrating devices and acquiring data. This is why cybersecurity is important. A compromised computer could lead to identity theft, fraud, or monetary loss. If you’re a business owner, a single phishing attack or unauthorized access to your database could ruin your clients’ trust and confidence, mar your brand and company name, or lead to legal ramifications.

Here are some of the most common cyber attacks.

Hacking

Hackers usually use malware to penetrate a system or a network. Common types of malware hackers use include spyware, viruses, Trojans, worms, ransomware, and more. By using malware and other hacking tools, these online criminals are able to access and monitor a device and extract confidential data.

Phishing

By posing as a trustworthy entity or by using enticing content, fraudsters create bait such as clickable buttons, links, contents, forms, and more to lure online users into an open and unsafe network. Once the targets have taken the bait, phishers may do a number of things including collecting your data including financial information or install malware on your computer in order to access it. 

Social Engineering

This type of attack comes in various forms, but its main concept is to appeal to human emotions to exploit confidential data or gain access to sensitive accounts. Social engineering uses psychological manipulation to convince targets to complete a specific action. This technique is commonly used in phishing, water-holing, vishing, and tailgating attacks. 

E-skimming

E-skimming, also commonly known as Magecart Attacks and Web Skimming, is like the virtual version of credit card skimming. Online thieves put malicious codes on the payment processing page of e-commerce sites to capture lodged credit card information. They can then use this information to for selling purposes or to commit fraud and identity theft. 

 

Computer Security: Ways To Protect Your Device

Set Strong Passwords/PINs For Your Accounts and Computer

A password/PIN is a basic security measure that serves as the first line of defense against threats. Creating a strong and unique one can certainly prevent your computer and accounts from being compromised and damaged. Never recycle passwords/PINs, and religiously update at least once every three months. You may opt to use a reliable password generator or manager. Such providers offer convenience, security, and privacy. It’s also recommended that you enable two-factor authentication as an extra layer of protection especially for apps, sites, or accounts that store any of your sensitive data.

Practice Encryption

Through encryption, your confidential information can only be accessed by using a key or a code. Hackers might have ways to decode encrypted data, but then again, it will take them some time. Hence, you’ll be at an advantage and could cut their access or wipe your device before they even incur damages. Building a safe environment to house your sensitive data may no longer be enough nowadays. You have to do something about the data itself, and one way to go about this is through encryption.

Don’t Mindlessly Click Links

You surely have been warned to not click links from unknown sources. The new trend, however, is that people are sent phishing links from known email addresses or phone numbers. Hackers have gone smarter and use an infected device’s contact list to spread more malware. This is because they are confident that users are more likely to open a message and click on anything sent by someone they know. Phishing emails and messages can easily be spotted however because they often contain misspellings, grammar lapses, spacing errors, and even weird characters. 

Download With Extreme Caution

Of course, hackers are smart enough to not leave a malicious code in plain sight. They usually hide it in a form of software or an application. This is the easiest method to infect your computer with malware. This is why you have to be always careful about the programs you install and run on your computer. Only download reputable and trustworthy software or apps. Additionally, never install any program just because a pop-up notification says so. Always validate and verify.

Always Use Private Wi-Fi

The internet is like a wormhole. You wouldn’t notice anyone following your digital footprint or know if someone is tracking your online activities. One way to ensure your information is secure is by only using a private Wi-Fi network. When you’re in a public place and need to process certain transactions, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi. Cybercriminals clone trusted Wi-Fi names like your favorite coffee shop or restaurant to lure customers into connecting to their malicious network. This is how they can remotely access your device. Also, make it a habit to use a VPN, private browsers, and private search engines.

Invest In Your Computer’s Defense

Ensure your computer’s operating system is regularly updated. Toggle the “auto-update” settings to ensure you do not miss out. OS upgrades often contain new patches that are meant to address vulnerabilities and fix security loopholes. For a stronger defense, install reliable security software on your computer. Ensure that the antivirus or anti-malware program you have receives signature updates regularly. Also, enable real-time scanning for the software to detect malicious codes or activities before they can even infect your system.

Conduct Pen-testing

Penetration testing or pen-testing is the practice of using hacker tools and techniques to challenge network security. Through this method, a user can have a better and deeper evaluation of the device’s safety protocols. This process is meant to expose the vulnerabilities and security flaws of your computer to better address them. Like how detectives put it, to beat a criminal, you have to think like one.

A computer is like a whole office or house in one compact device. In this digital age, almost everything can be accomplished online. All thanks to these electronic devices and the internet, we can catch-up with the world and complete our errands or business activities in real-time. 

Keeping your computer secure and safe from security threats requires a dependable defense and reliable offense. Make the above computer safety tips and techniques for your new habits. Constantly enhance your computer’s, as well as your data’s, security.

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About Pat S.

Pat S.
Blogger, writer, yoga enthusiast, and cell phone monitoring software expert.

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