In the midst of the fast-paced tech world, there are countless threats prowling around our laptops and PC. The internet is dealing with a large number of potential cyber threats, and it has become essential for us to protect our confidential information from falling into the wrong hands. We should understand what kind of threats we should look for and protect our computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and most importantly, the IoTs.
Having said, we have created this guide to reveal the most essential information about making your devices and computer “Hack Proof” against a broad range of vulnerabilities. We have an objective to make your online privacy and data secured against every hacker, identity thief, snooper, and state-sponsored surveillance.
After reading this guide, you will be able to understand what is online security, why should you protect yourself when going online, and how do you actually protect yourself online. Read along to discover everything:
What Exactly is Computer Security?
Both Online security or Computer security are often misunderstood. These terms often provide you with no help apart from basic information. The reason lays on the fact that Computer Security is more of a diverse field. While the online security experts and computer scientists are working day in day out to identify and fix security issues on various devices, there are the tech nerds who are though immature in the literal sense of the world, but they are both skilled and able to offer the best insight on online security.
PC security is more of computer security. It covers the areas including the network and online security. A large number of the vulnerabilities in your computer are likely to survive just due to the internet. In many cases, the flaw in one of the high-end servers affects computer security. Unfortunately, an average user doesn’t have any control over the security aspects in a computer.
It means security of the PC can be defined as the safeguard of the personal computer. It is solely your responsibility to secure the computer from possible cyber threat waiting outside of the walls. The computer security companies often express this concept as the Firewall. You will find the blocker or shield across the promotion of the computer security software.
These terms are meant to specify the aim of computer security, however, this doesn’t happen always. The information provided by a computer security company is often impartial favoring their solution, perplexing the threats and issues.
History of Computer Viruses
Computer viruses weren’t considered as a possible danger in initial stages. The viruses released in the earlier stages spread in 1970 through the ancestor of the internet, ARPANET. They were the mundane programs that often tend to do nothing apart from just showing messages at a user’s terminal. The computer viruses apparently didn’t pose any severe security concern until the mid of 1980.
During this period, users witnessed innovations in cyber threats. These innovations included the Brain Virus that is the first ever IBM PC virus. This virus could harm the MS DOS’s boot sector, making them sluggish or even unable to render useful information. The earliest malware then rapidly transformed as the tech savvies got opportunity to engage users into fraud, spreading skills across the peers. Media became active over the coverage of virus attacks during 1990.
The first major virus breach took place with the name of the Michelangelo computer virus. Similar to other virus breaches, Michelangelo computer breach spread panic through media around the world. Netizens were concerned that soon their data will be under treat.
1. The Traditional Virus
In the history of viruses, malware has spread mainly through user error. A user performs an action, triggering the virus to come into the action. For instance, a user opens an email attachment containing an image or other files, it spreads the virus in an entire computer. The file will first show an error, fooling the user that nothing is wrong with it.
In many cases, virus spread occurs due to the action of a user. Reproduction of a virus is made possible not through a security loophole in a program, but through the presentation. During the late 1990s, the virus became the most threatening computer program. A large number of people were amateur in using email and didn’t have much information about how opening an attachment could lead to devastation.
In addition, email services had featured no proper security mechanism such as spam filter, keeping the virus away from the inboxes of the users. In the modern day, technological development in this landscape has made the virus spread through email less effective. There are a large number of people who do not install decent security software and open email attachments without knowing the disaster it could bring to them.
Since email viruses are common nowadays; virus architecture has become more innovative. Viruses can now conceal themselves in some of the file types that people consider as the most secure such as the Excel Spreadsheet and files with. PDF extensions. In addition, a virus can infect your computer even through a web browser. It can occur if a user visits a web page with a virus.
Trojans serve as a different virus, infecting PCs through similar methods as specified above. Since a virus can run vulnerable code in a computer; a Trojan can make it possible for a third party to access your computer. Interestingly, both virus and a Trojan can often lump together to become a malware, as there are some threats linked with both the virus and a Trojan.
The worm stands as the method of virus attacks and their reproduction instead of the virus itself. Worm infection works in a unique way, deserving of a distinct category. In essence, a worm is a malware capable to infect a personal computer without requiring a user to take an action apart from turning on a computer and connecting it to the internet. Unlike traditional malware that can hide in an infected file, worm tends to attack a computer through network loophole.
When talking about the stereotypical worm, they can spread through spam copies of themselves to random IP addresses. Every copy follows specific instructions for attacking a particular vulnerability of a network. If any PC is discovered with vulnerability, the worm makes use of the network vulnerability for gaining access to the PC. Afterward, a worm can use the infected PC for spamming more IP addresses, repeating the process continuously.
According to the stats, the SQL Slammer worm in 2003 infected about 75,000 computers within just ten minutes of release. The term worm covers a broad range of threats. Some of the worms spread security loopholes in an email, spreading virus after infecting a system. Others can work through following a targeted attack. Another worm, Stuxnet is developed using a code that was designed to the nuclear program of Iran.
Rootkit is more of a nasty malware, capable of achieving privileged access to various computers. They can hide from traditional antivirus scans. As their name reveals, they serve the specific purpose. Rootkits can attack a system, spread, and reproduce through various tactics. They operate similar to a worm while hiding themselves in the legitimate file formats.
Sony found itself under threat when the security experts identified various music CDs by them included a rootkit. The rootkit could access Windows PC, conceal itself from virus scans, and send data to a remote computer. This was considered as a part of a misunderstood copy protection policy.
Through many ways, a rootkit can achieve a goal that is similar to those of the traditional Trojan and virus. Their aim can be deletion or corruption of files. It might also log the keystrokes in an attempt to discover username and password and send them to any 3rd party. These are the disasters that a virus or Trojan could do, but rootkit can conceal itself effectively while doing its job.
A rootkit can be challenging for an operating system, leveraging security loopholes in an operating system and present itself as a legit system file. In many cases, removal of rootkit can damage the operating system as well.
5. Pharming and Phishing
The malware in 1990 appears quite ineffective when compared to those of today. In past, malware was developed by the hackers who wished to highlight their skills and gain dominance over the peers.
They tend to damage the computers severely, staying on the infected systems only. On another hand, modern-day malware is often nothing other than a tool utilized by the cyber goons to peak into confidential information of the users. The exposed information can later be used to make unauthorized use of credit cards, identity theft, and performing broad range illegal activities on the internet, bringing down the wrath upon an innocent user.
Pharming and phishing are the techniques through which cyber criminals can perform an attack. In reality, they aren’t meant to attack a system, but steal confidential information and use it for illegal purposes.
Since the rogues are commonly known as the most serious problems with individual characteristics, they are difficult to categorize threats, as the ecosystem of threats is varied and transforming. This is the reason malware are utilized more frequently.
Malware stands as the perfect catch for many as they can infect a computer or use it to bring harm to you. Now that you are aware of the most common cyber threats, you might be wondering about what you should do for them. The best place to start with is discussing the operating systems.
Security of the Operating Systems
In reality, the operating system you have installed can influence the potential malware threats. Your operating system determines the counter-act you need for cyber threats. In many cases, malware is designed to benefit from specific exploits in an operating system. Malware that is coded to benefit from different vulnerabilities in the Microsoft Windows can’t pose any harm to the Mac OS X as both follow a significantly different coding architecture.
It would be right to say that selection of an operating system can affect the overall security of a PC than any other aspect. Keeping these factors in mind, we have included the most popular operating systems that are being used by the netizens:
The most recent operating system by the Microsoft, Windows 10 stands as the revised version of the previous installment. The Windows 10 offers broad range of fantastic features including the security patches. Windows 10 ensures your PC is protected through ensuring that programs do not gain access to your system without acquiring permission.
In addition, Microsoft has introduced various improvements across the operating system’s ability to send crucial security information to the users. Interestingly, the Windows 10 benefits from a monarch towards security that is stronger than previous versions of the Windows. This is vital when considering the security exploits that Microsoft had to patch previously.
However, Windows 10 is prone to various vulnerabilities due to widespread usage and popularity. As a matter of fact, Windows 10 is still one of the most used operating systems that makes it a preferred choice among the hackers for targeting. This is the reason Windows 10 users need a reliable security solution.
Mac OS X
Mac OS X offers the most modern feel. However, at the core, the Mac OS X is an older operating system. The first ever version was released back in 2001 that makes it older than Windows XP. The leading tech giant Apple follows a distinct approach than the Microsoft. When the individuals at the Redmond work on the hefty releases, introducing them to the market in every five to six years, the Apple on another hand, updates the OS X about eight times since the most initial release.
These releases mostly comprise of the security updates. Apple Inc. has achieved a strong reputation for providing the fans with the robust that surpasses the Windows OS in multiple ways. However, this reputation of Apple tends to fail when examined closely.
Although, Malware targeting the Mac OS X doesn’t exist, Apple patches the security flaws with almost similar frequency as the Microsoft. Interestingly, the security company Secunia has discovered that in the last year Mac OS X had been subjected to about 36 vulnerabilities that are ten less than those of the Microsoft’s Windows XP.
This doesn’t mean Mac OS X isn’t a secure operating system. An advantage it has over the UNIX heritage is the requirement to sign in as the “root” for applying changes to some of the important files. However, many security experts believe that the OS X is close to immune to various security threats because of the obscurity element. Since there is a significant degree of truth to this, various threats to the security of the Mac OS X exist and can be equally damaging as those targeting the Microsoft Windows.
Linux requires users to sign in on a root account for applying changes to crucial system files. Linux has stood at top for offering security in term of obscurity. The users’ base of Linux is quite small. To make things even worse, the users’ base of Linux cannot cling to any specific variant. Though the code is often the same, but there are notable changes in the different variants of this operating system.
How to Protect Your Computer
Use an Antivirus
You can install a reliable antivirus to protect yourself against various malware apps. Though there are tech nerds who say you can keep yourself safe without any antivirus by carefully using the internet. However, the truth is that you need an antivirus to protect yourself against the complex malware programs. PC security needs antivirus, firewalls and more programs to ensure you are safe at all times.
Never Open Suspicious Emails
You should always avoid opening up suspicious emails. As a matter of fact, malware tends to reproduce through opening infected files in an email. You should do the security check on an email before downloading the attachments. In this way, you will stay safe against the potential viruses that could steal and damage information, or in the worst case, make your computer unusable.
So far, we have revealed all the essential information about the security of laptops and computers. Keeping in view, the increasing number of malware, Trojan, worm, and more vulnerabilities, it has become essential to equip oneself with a powerful antivirus software and firewall that keeps a user safe against various threats. If you want to add more to this guide, feel free to comment