The cyber world is just about one of the most dangerous playgrounds out there. Threats and vulnerabilities can come from just about anywhere, and as long as your device has the ability to connect to a network, you’re not safe! It’s not just about avoiding those suspicious websites on your laptop while looking for the full version of that movie that just came out, but threats can come from other external sources and even from within the device itself whether it’s your phone, tablet or so on.
- Drive-By Downloads
Drive-by downloads happen just with the click of a link. All you have to do is visit the website and instantly malwares or viruses start to download dangerous code in the background without you even being aware of it, hence the term “drive-by”. The best way to steer clear of these is to either be very careful when clicking on links sent by text, email, or even social media, especially from contacts you don’t know or just avoid them altogether. These sites often look innocent so the best way to protect yourself for now is to make use of security softwares available to you in the app store and keep your operating system and web browser updated as security patches become available. This helps to prevent dangerous links from exploiting weaknesses on your device.
- Phishing Scams
You’ve seen these messages, most often through email claiming that you have just made a purchase and they need you to confirm your bank account or things of that nature. A quick way to spot these is to look at the characters in the link itself as well as the sender. Chances are if there are a bunch of random characters and/or numbers in it, then it’s probably not safe. Do not click on anything in the message, delete them immediately!
- Wi-Fi Sniffing
For just about everything we do on these devices, we use some kind of network. It can be tempting not to use free open Wi-Fi networks if you are away from home or maybe so close to being out of cellular data. I mean that’s what they are there for, right? But, these unsecure Wi-Fi networks can easily be hacked, comprising your privacy and all of your confidential information. Not only that but sometimes hackers can even create fake connections resembling Wi-Fi network. If you must use an unsecure Wi-Fi network, never use it to access your bank account or any other personal information. If that network happens to be hacked, everything you use through that network passes through the hacker first and they get a hold of it. Using cellular data is not safest either being that they are also not secured, if it can wait until you get home, your personal network is the safest route to go.
Similarly to the previous three types of threat, spyware exploits your privacy but takes it a step further since they are specifically installed for that purpose. They are used to gather information such as text messages, call history, emails, pictures, location, browser history, etc. The hacker could potentially use this information to commit serious fraud or this can even be used by people such as your coworkers or friends just to spy on you. When the information gathered is used for the wrong purposes spyware can prove to be a serious threat to your privacy and overall safety.
Malicious Software, on the other hand, can include Spyware but often when installed proves to be more harmful and virus oriented. Hackers often use malware to either gain control of your device, or make unapproved charges to your bill. They can slow down your device, make programs disappear and do a wide range of damage to your device. There’s really no limit to how these dangerous installations can affect your phone, tablet or computer.
The best way to stay secure and virus free is to be aware of these potential threats. Exercising caution when opening texts and emails from users you don’t know is a great place to start. Installing an antivirus software like Lookout or Avast can also help you spot links that could potentially exploit vulnerabilities on your device.