Suppose you’re like most people, over the past year, you’ve likely found yourself turning toward your personal devices to accomplish everyday tasks. Working from home, shopping online, and logging into classes have worked to keep communities safe and healthy. Unfortunately, it’s also brought with it its own unseen potential dangers.
With more personal data than ever moving freely through your network of devices, it’s time to take a critical look at what you’re doing to keep your information safe and your devices protected. If you run Windows on your devices, here are some of the risks you need to be aware of — and the steps you can take to make sure your Windows devices remain secure in the coming year.
Have a password-protected device and only use trustworthy websites on your home network? You may be lulled into a false sense of security. While basic safety protocols like smart password usage and multi-factor authentication help lessen the likelihood of data loss and security breaches, they aren’t enough to keep your devices protected in today’s world.
Cybercrime is one of the largest growing crime sectors. In fact, the pandemic brought with it a fourfold increase in cybercrime during 2020. Based on the current data and the recent cybercrime trajectories, here are some of the major security risks you can expect to face in 2021.
A social engineering attack is a classic and highly successful way of gaining unauthorized access to accounts and information through human interactions. Phishing is one of the classic social engineering attacks and involves requesting information from you while using the guise of legitimacy. Emails and text messages claiming to be from banks or credit cards and requesting account information often attempt to acquire what they need to have full access to your data.
Ransomware is a kind of malware designed to encrypt information on your device, leaving it inaccessible to you. Many ransomware cyberattacks require a ransom for the return of your data and device’s usability. Ransomware is used frequently and continues to evolve, becoming a common threat to large businesses and databases, and individuals on personal PCs.
Cybersecurity risks aren’t new, but some of the ways they manifest have changed as workplaces have evolved. With more people working from home, there’s a greater risk of vulnerable home networks being compromised by a security breach and giving a third party easy access to colleagues’ networks as well. Coordinated assaults can quickly lead to a large-scale problem for businesses and employees.
There’s no doubt about the fact that cybersecurity risks continue to exist and that they’ll likely see growth in the coming years. Fortunately, there are preventative steps you can take to protect your data and devices.
One of the simplest things you can do to keep your information protected is also one of the least convenient. When your software or device notifies you of an available update, don’t wait to update or install. These updates often contain patches to strengthen areas that have proven to be vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Using the most up-to-date iteration of your software works to keep your device and network better protected. Opt in to automatic updates whenever possible and set aside a block of time to check for and install any updates once a month.
Antivirus software works to keep your device protected from malware. This software can be installed on different types of devices. The best names in the business usually require a subscription fee but often allow for installation on multiple devices. If you use your device away from home, antivirus software can be a great way to give your devices some protection even when you can’t control the security measures on the network you’re using.
Doing what you can to strengthen the security of your individual devices is a great place to start. However, just protecting the device is not enough to keep your data safe. Installing protection for your network will help keep every device you own safer — even the devices you may not immediately consider. Smart thermostats, refrigerators, and security systems all use the same home network your PC does, and they can leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks.
Installing a firewall is a simple way to up the protection level on your network. Firewalls keep track of the traffic moving through your devices. Windows do come equipped with its own firewall, but additional firewalls can be installed. Some popular antivirus services — like Norton and McAfee — also provide firewalls. Ensure the firewalls you have access to are enabled and check into any subscription services to determine if you already have access to a reputable firewall service.
In addition to a firewall, installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) can be a great way to protect your network and any devices on it. Using a VPN for security allows you to secure an internet connection, limiting access to the data moving through your device and network and reducing the risk of any security breaches. In addition to providing enhanced security, a VPN can also be used to allow for greater anonymity when using the internet and even mask your current location.
In 2020 we learned how precious our technology is — and just how ingrained it is in our daily lives. Keeping your data protected is more important now than it ever has been in the past, and a few small preventative measures can ensure your personal information remains just that. There’s no need to give up the incredible convenience and opportunity the internet brings with it when you can increase your cybersecurity measures instead. Properly protect your devices and networks, and you can avoid being a victim of cyberattacks in 2021.