Technology has always had a knack for improving life, typically by presenting a solution to a problem. Today’s technology is no different; the internet has brought the world closer together, and IoT technology and cloud computing aren’t far behind in terms of making the world a more connected, more convenient place. However, with all of these additional connections, hackers have ever more points of entry when it comes to stealing your private data. Here’s what you need to know about online security.
What is a cyber attack? The primary problem for modern cybersecurity experts is that there is no singular answer to this question. The tools and techniques of hackers are many, and security specialists are engaged in a constant arms race to ensure that there are countermeasures for each of them. Perhaps the most basic and ubiquitous type of cyber attack is the humble malware. Malware itself comes in many shapes and sizes, but they are among the easiest threats to simply avoid, and antimalware software is typically more than you need to keep yourself safe online. On the other hand, DDoS attacks are fairly uncommon by comparison, and they are always targeted as organizations, rather than people. Simply put, a DDoS attack is one in which a company’s network is forcibly shut down, and this is accomplished using an army of malware infected computers to simulate an overabundance of traffic. Protecting yourself from these attacks requires at least a basic knowledge of the most common threats to the average person and the corresponding security measures.
The predominant method of protecting yourself from cyber attacks is installing various pieces of software. Anti Malware is, again, the most basic type of cybersecurity software out there and can be more than enough for a particular cautious internet user. However, software can continue to help you protect yourself against other types of cyber attacks and even simply being too visible online. For example, VPNs, Virtual Private Networks, can be used to obscure your IP address online, and that IP address is how you can be identified online. This means that a hacker can potentially track your activity using your IP address, and VPNs serve as a way to hide that identification by routing all of your activity through a remote network, thereby generating a new IP address on a temporary basis.
The vast majority of cybersecurity attacks have been made possible to basic human fallibility. Human error is an inevitability, which is why much of recent cybersecurity tech has focused on reducing the dangers of user errors. However, striving to be more cautious online is still an important part of staying safe. This starts with knowing how to identify online risks. Most typically, you should be wary of unsecured websites. These can be identified by looking at a site’s URL. “Http” websites are not secure, meaning that the site is susceptible to hackers. This in turn can mean that the site in question has become a trap for unsuspecting users, as many of these sites contain malware that will be disguised as more innocuous, and sometimes even familiar, downloads. A URL that begins with “https” has been secured via encryption and decryption protocols that obscure data during exchanges on that site in question, keeping your data safe from prying eyes and preventing hackers from bending the site’s code to their own dark purposes. Another potential weak point for cybersecurity is the password. Multi-factor authentication can strengthen a password or even eliminate its necessity entirely by asking users for other types of identification, such as code sent to a smartphone app or an email address. This protects users because it renders a password meaningless on its own and often specifically requires access to a given user’s physical property, at least in theory.
Staying safe online isn’t always easy, but it also doesn’t have to be hard. Software can protect you from various threats, and you can restructure your approach to browsing the internet with safety in mind.