Internet scams and viruses have a strange reputation. On the one hand, they are the digital equivalent of the bogey man, this sinister force you are constantly being warned about but without ever seeing evidence of.
After all, phishing scams, which are one of the most widespread and effective means of cyber attack, rely on people being duped into opening fake links, using fake websites, and interacting with fake people. Considering most internet users are warned against interacting with shady websites or individuals online, it seems an unlikely phenomenon.
However, it remains incredibly prevalent.
There is a good reason for this. Cyber-attacks are becoming increasingly intelligent and difficult to police, with scammers mastering the art of disguise and human manipulation to change shape and form continually but remain utterly effective.
Despite this, there are a number of ways you can protect yourself against online viruses.
Here are three tips to prevent your computer from suffering a virus attack:
Know which areas are most vulnerable to attack
Half the battle with internet scammers and phishing hacks is to fully understand what you’re up against. Professional con artists and scammers have used the same techniques for centuries, and yet they continue to be as widespread as ever.
This is because they are master manipulators who rely on certain human fallibilities and blind spots to operate. For instance, online scammers (particularly phishing scammers) take advantage of people’s naivety by offering lucrative tax return deals, posing as popular websites, and even hacking their friend’s accounts and posing as them in order to extract sensitive information.
While this sounds like something you wouldn’t be able to spot, it can be overcome by increased awareness of these scams. If you were told that someone was going to approach you on the street and try to scam you, chances are when you were scammed; your guard would already be up. The same approach can be used online. If a message or email sounds too good to be true, you are best off avoiding it, and if you feel pressured into handing over information, log out and walk away. Click here for more information.
Don’t leave anything on your computer you wouldn’t want to lose
Another simple way to safeguard yourself against cyber threats is to avoid leaving sensitive data around on your devices. In the same way, you wouldn’t leave a large stack of money sitting on your window sill; you are almost certainly safer if you store your valuable data properly. Using a cloud-based account to store your data is a practical and safe way to stop hackers from stealing your sensitive information while keeping it all in a single file for you to access easily when you need to.
Make sure to verify every link you are sent
Another simple tip you can use to protect yourself against virus attacks is to double-check and verify every important link you are sent.
For example, if your bank emails you asking you to log in and change important account details, ring up your bank, or use another device to separately log in to the account to check if this is actually the case.
Avoid trusting what you read, even if the website looks legitimate. Phishing scams are becoming increasingly thorough, to the point where nefarious third parties can take over famous individuals, companies, and even your friends’ accounts in order to persuade you to hand over sensitive data. Always double-check beforehand.