Many people think hackers spend most of their time looking for ways to compromise the systems of businesses and other organizations, big and small. However, in reality, individuals are targeted just as much, and millions of people are stung by a cybercriminal attack each year.
Recently, one issue that has been popping up a lot is that of malware on digital educational resources such as textbooks and essays. Problems occur with resources used in schools, colleges, and the like, but are also particularly rife with pirated products. While we know illegal movie and software downloads are often riddled with viruses, now hackers are also adding malware to educational materials. Since some textbooks or related programs cost hundreds of dollars, many people seek out free alternatives, which may be compromised.
As such, whether you have a young student in your household or are at university or completing some other type of study yourself, it’s vital to think about security. Keep in mind that if hackers find a way into your networks and systems via malware on one program, they can then potentially steal a variety of information and crash or lock your computers on you. Avoid this by taking steps to reduce your risk of attack today.
Buy Authentic Products
Firstly, wherever possible, spend the money needed to buy authentic products rather than downloading free ones. Teach your children to come to you when they need an educational resource, rather than searching for any old option online.
If finances are tight and it’s hard to afford new products, see what you can get from school or public libraries, or even join forces with other parents to buy a new digital product by putting in money together and sharing the resource. By avoiding untested, untrustworthy digital downloads, you’ll dramatically reduce the risk of malware landing on your family’s devices.
Install Quality Security Software
Next, it’s important to install quality security software on every computer you and your family use. Select comprehensive products that cover against many threats, such as viruses, spyware, spam, ransomware, and other types of malware. The protection should block phishing emails, protect user privacy online, and detect data-stealing apps.
Also, choose a product that will alert you in real-time if your computer is compromised at any stage. That way, if you ever do end up with a nasty piece of code on your machine, you can take steps ASAP to get rid of it. There are numerous helpful malware removal programs available for purchase at an affordable price.
Set Up Strong Passwords
Another tip is to set up strong passwords for your tech gear and all the accounts you log in to online. Also, password protect your Wi-Fi router. The harder-to-guess codes are, the less likely it is that hackers will be able to do damage if they find a way onto your systems.
Proper passwords are made up of letters (upper-case and lower-case), numbers, and symbols. They should be a considerable length, too, such as eight or more characters. Plus, use different codes for different logins so that if one happens to be compromised, you won’t be at risk everywhere. Also, update your passwords a few times per year as an added precaution.
Keep All Systems Updated
Anything you can do to keep hackers at bay is a plus. An additional strategy is to keep all computer systems updated, so there are fewer ways for hackers to find an in or cause damage. You need to run the most recent versions of all programs, as these will have any security gaps that have opened up over time plugged by developers. (Product manufacturers are continually on the lookout for holes that hackers can use to break-in, and create updates to reduce these risks.)
Updates are necessary on all sorts of software, such as browsers, operating systems, games, plugins, apps, etc. Also, install new versions of firmware as this becomes available. To stay as safe as possible, it’s wise to accept automatic updates. By doing this, you’ll never have to remember to check for new releases, and you won’t have any periods where you’re using out-of-date coding.
The threat of a hacker attack is real and very stressful, and sadly not a small risk in this digitally-minded world. You can be proactive and protect yourself, though, by following all the steps listed above.