In today’s digital world everyone is exposed to security exploits and if you feel that you are not then you are completely wrong!!! I know many people whose security and privacy got compromised. Having an antivirus software on your machine do not (let me say it again) do not makes you secured! There is always a security loophole that a normal user cannot see and hackers manipulate those back-doors and back-ways to vanish your pockets.
Now you will ask me, “Mayuresh, did you mean that no one is fully secured in this digital world?” Sadly though, the answer is YES! However, you can use certain techniques and combination of software’s that will make you one of the hardest target of the hackers.
Again, a question arises, How??? Well, that is what I am going to tell you in this article, stay tuned.
The ultimate security guide for today’s digital world
Let us first analyze what makes any system vulnerable? We will take a look at the computer system and then we will analyze mobile or smartphone systems.
What makes a computer device vulnerable?
Yes, your operating system makes a huge difference. Using windows makes you one of the easy target for malware attacks. But hey wait I am not saying you to switch to Linux and ditch windows completely. No!!! That’s not possible for everyone. Don’t worry I am here to solve this problem. There are so many options in windows that make your machine vulnerable and also the same for the Linux users.
Many people use pirated windows and they usually don’t update their systems. Well, consider using a licensed copy of your operating system. But, the actual point is what windows update does is windows identifies your system hardware and find the latest drivers and patches so that any known vulnerabilities in the systems can be fixed. But as you don’t update it which maximum people are doing; Now your system is vulnerable to the known bugs and back-doors.
Well, there is one thing which I really like about the Linux is that you get the updates and as it is free nobody is going to catch you for pirating it so people update it frequently. And this is the reason why Linux is safer than windows.
That’s okay Mayuresh I would rather stick to windows but how to fix this on windows?
First of all, get to know what devices you have on your system and make a list of it. You can find what devices your system has by searching device manager in windows search. If you cannot find it just right click on My computer and you can see the device manager. As you can in the following screenshot:
Now once you have your list just google the latest driver for “device name” and you can easily find the manufacturer site. Go to the official site of the device manufacturer and download the latest device driver and install it. Do this once a month and now you are at least secured your computer from driver end.
There are open ports on your computer which allow anyone to access it. Believe or not they are! And I was also shocked when I first got to know this. Don’t worry you just need a free application called Peer block. Go to Peer block’s website and install the latest version of peer block.
This step is optional but you can say thanks later. Go to peer block settings 1 and change the color of an Allowed option to green, Blocked and blocked HTTP option to red; click on save and now click on protection. Now you will see traffic which is blocked in red color and traffic which is allowed in green color. This will help you to understand how many people are trying to connect to your machine through open ports.
You have blocked people coming trying to connect to your machine from outside but what about software’s present on your system? Windows firewall is a great option but I prefer using a free software called Tinywall. Click here to download Tinywall. Once you installed it you can easily access from the system tray (^ icon near the clock on taskbar). There are 5 modes of tinywall which are Normal protection, Block all, Allow outgoing, Disable Firewall and Autolearn. I prefer normal protection as it generally blocks almost everything, LOL! So that you can choose which software can access the internet.
Now you want to allow internet access to google chrome you need to open tinywall and click on whitelist by window option. Once you clicked on it you need to click on Google Chrome (Or the software you want to allow internet access) and click on ok. This will whitelist that particular software. If you know where is the software executable is located then you can select whitelist by executable’s and the same logic applies to the whitelist by process option.
Do you know what is the difference between a software and a virus? Well, nothing! A virus is also a software. And when it comes to computer security most of the virus attacks are done by distributing pirated software’s. So always remember whenever you download a software kindly download it from the known and trusted websites only!
Also considering a fact that software engineers are also humans and they also need to run their houses they need money. And how will they get it? Yes, you guessed it right by selling the software or working for a software company which sells the software. Consider buying software rather than pirating it. Or straightforwardly use the opensource software.
Anyways, let me give you some of the most trusted software websites lists here:
Top 20 websites to download software safely.
You might not be aware to the fact that the browser is such a powerful tool which helps attackers to hijack your system. Most of the malware is spread through browsers. People who visit some odd websites like torrents, porn and nulled software downloading sites get this kind of attacks. Now the question arises how? Well, the trick is pretty simple you visit the website you click on download but and they let you download a software. Not the one which you wanted to but the one malicious software which you install considering that this was the software you wanted to install. And boom that software now in your system and it can use multiple strategies like:
- staying silent for few hours and then causing the harm
- Started encrypting all of your files which you might not have a backup of
- Started reading your saved password in the browser
- Started sending your personal information like photos or any credit card info
And this is why you need to install the Firewall so that only allowed software can access the internet. And also, this is why you need to install software’s from the trusted sites only in order to stay away from attacks like these.
Without Emails, there is not professional life such. And the scary part of it is that attackers can easily take advantage of your emails. The most common attack done is that attacker will send you a malicious file as an attachment and might name it related to your field like Business plan, salary slip, minutes of meeting, etc. Once you open the attachment your computer will run that code and attacker will install another software on your computer which will then do the rest of the damage. So always remember do not open email attachment files without looking at who has sent it to you or without checking the file in online virus scanning websites like virustotal.com or scan it with your antivirus program.
Social media and Security
I see people posting everything on their social feed and allowing the whole world the access to it. Just imagine putting a photo of your daughter on her first day of school and there is a pedo person who is your social media friend. You have given him enough details and he can do anything with her! Do you know how much information you give to thieves by just putting a status like Going to Goa; now he knows you are at Goa and you are not at home for a few days.
You will ask, “So should I leave the social media”? I will say YES if you are going to carelessly use it please leave it! Use social media wisely.
Social media safety tips:
- Add/follow only people you know personally
- Remove unknown persons from your social media
- Do not post everything on social media
- Use privacy setting so that only people you allowed can see your posts
- Do not download any software sent by someone from social media
- When you play Quiz games or something like that see what permission does that app is asking for
- Don’t log in on social media from a device that you do not own
- Change your password frequently and use a strong one
- Link your Active mobile number and email address to your social profile
These tips were for computer devices and now I will tell you How to make sure the security of your mobile devices.
Now let us dive deep into mobile security
There are more people using mobiles than the people using desktops. Nowadays we use mobiles for everything but hackers target three of the most important aspects of mobile use i.e. social media, banking transactions, email. There are many security issues with our mobiles today that the average user is completely unaware of and still uses their mobiles for banking transactions. Let’s accept the fact again that nobody can build a completely secured device, there are people who are going to hack. But what you can do is take certain security measures like:
Download apps from Trusted Sources
Many times while browsing you see an ad for a cool game or app and it asks you to install it. Not many people give it a second thought and then click on install. They don’t see the source of the application. If you download an app from the untrusted partner then remember the simple looking game app might be an attackers tool to hijack your mobile phone and its data. The attacker has now successfully installed his app in your mobile system and now he can do whatever he wants using system loopholes.
Advice: Download and install apps from trusted App stores only like Google Play store, Amazon App store, etc.
So you have downloaded the app from the trusted app store but while installing you gave that app whatever permissions that app is asking for. Kindly understand you are the owner of your mobile phone and you are giving that 3rd party application to enter into your device and do whatever they are willing of. As an example there are certain utility apps which ask for permissions like SMS, Call, Draw over the screen, etc. Which is obviously shady! Why does a loan calculator want to manage your call or SMS? Simply to read them and the Bank OTP you receive.
Advice: Hence it is needed that you wisely use the Android permissions.
Do not Share OTP
There are Scammers sitting who are targeting innocent people. To do any bank transaction online the user needs to use the OTP or One Time Password. These scammers somehow initiate a banking transaction and then they pretend to be one of your bankers and ask you to share the OTP. Innocent people who are not aware of this fraud share their OTP’s and lose their hard earned money in just matter of seconds.
Advice: Never ever share your banking details, Passwords and OTP’s with anyone.
Do not share Passwords
Same like OTP’s one should not share his password. Because it has been observed that people use the same password for almost every account they have! If you happened to share your password with anyone then change it immediately!
Advice: Do not use the same password for every account & do not share your password with anyone.
Think wisely, Question everything!
So the overall security advice I will share with you is, think wisely, question everything! Whatever you see online is not trusted, you need to question yourself whether it is from a trusted source or not? The URL of this website is correct or not? Why this app is asking for so many permissions? Ask questions to yourself and then install or use.
If you have any security tip that you think needs to be share then kindly comment below. You can also ask your doubts by commenting below. Do not forget to share this article with your friends and Family so that they all stay aware of the modern worlds security!