Cyber attacks such as Malware and the recently highlighted ‘Ransomware’ attacks are becoming all too common.
To help combat against the constant threat posed by cyber hackers and online criminals we have created a list of tips to help improve your online security.
No. 1 – Be Careful What You Open
The majority of ransomware attacks continue to spread via the use of phishing emails. These e-mails often contain attachments which look like invoices or tax rebates. Opening these attachments will allow the virus to infect your computer.
It’s important that you never open attachments unless you are certain that you know what they contain. Many viruses are spread via attachments that look like invoices and tax rebates so please be ultra cautious.
Top Tip – As strange as this may seem, many fake e-mails, web pages and attachments often include bad spelling (“PayePal” instead of “PayPal” for example). They also have a different look from the standard templates used by reputable companies. These should both act as a red flag.
Looking at the e-mail address that the e-mail as been sent from can often be another tip that something is not right. If you are unsure, forward the e-mail to the company that the e-mail purports to be from and ask them if the e-mail is valid.
No. 2 – Update Windows Regularly
Computer viruses such as Malware and Ransomware rely on exploiting loopholes in outdated software to infect computers. Therefore it is absolutely essential that you ensure all Windows updates are implemented at the earliest possible opportunity.
If you are currently using Windows 10, the operating system should be automatically set to update itself. However, if you are using an older version, the default setting may well be for manual updates. If you use an older OS, you can find instructions on how to switch on automatic updates here.
No. 3 – Online Chat – What To Be Aware Of
Cybercriminals often use online chats, forums and apps to try and spread Malware. These often take the form of emergency messages.
As a general rule, Microsoft says, ‘Don’t click on a link on a webpage, in an email, or in a chat message unless you absolutely trust the page or sender.
No. 4 – Update Your Browser & Block Pop-Ups
Malware will try to exploit any weakness it can find to infect your computer. Blocking pop-ups and updating your internet browser regularly can significantly reduce the risk of being infected.
Top Tip – Whilst commonly used browsers such as Firefox and Chrome will update themselves automatically, it is still important to restart your browser every so often to make sure any recently installed updates are utilised.
No. 5 – Don’t Download Pirated Versions Music, Games or Films
We’re sure that none of you download illegal versions of anything but just in case you know someone that does, pirate website sites offering free music, games or films are often infested with malware!
Our advice is – don’t do it!
No. 6 – Back Up Your Files
Our final tip is not a preventative measure and is instead a damage limitation exercise.
Should your PC become infected it is essential that you have taken regular back-ups to ensure that the damage is not too severe.
Free online services such Google Drive and Dropbox offer the ideal way of backing up photos and data whereas removable hard drive (which you must not keep plugged into your computer all the time!) allow you to back-up and restore files quickly.
If you are a Windows 10 user, Microsoft has drawn up a guide for how to back up your machine and it can be found here.
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