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Being Cyber Savvy: Securing Your Devices

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A large part of keeping yourself (and your information) safe online involves securing your devices. As smartphones, tablets, and other devices become more popular, hackers are finding more and more ways to break into them. Protect your devices and your information by following some simple tips, and learn what it really means to “know your malware”.

Knowing your malware

Malware are used as methods of obtaining sensitive information by hackers on the Web. Some common types of malware include:

  • Botnet: this term refers to automated attacks that can “scrape” data, and overload servers
  • Spyware: this method covertly “spies” on user activity to collect data and sensitive information
  • Trojan Horse: much like the old story goes, this type of malware disguises itself (usually as a downloadable file or program) to infiltrate your device
  • Rootkit: this malware tool remotely controls a device without being detected
  • Virus Worms: like a real virus, this type of malware spreads through files and systems
  • Bug: essentially, a code flaw that can be exploited to compromise a device
  • Ransomware: as the name suggests, this kind of malware holds a device “captive” until a ransom is paid
  • Adware: this is software that automatically displays or downloads (often unwanted) advertising material while a user is online

Protect your devices

So, how does one go about protecting their devices from such looming threats? Luckily, there are ways to protect your devices, such as:

  • Being suspicious: always use caution when opening unsolicited emails, or unexpected attachments
  • Connecting securely: only make use of trusted (or “secure”, usually denoted by a lock icon of some kind) WiFi networks, and disable auto-connect on your device’s WiFi settings
  • Downloading carefully: limit app downloads to things you actually need, and always get them from an authorized app store
  • Staying current: keep software, antivirus systems, and operating systems up to date
  • Backing up often: back up device data often to protect against potential data loss

Secure your IoT

A final (but very important) measure when it comes to securing your devices involves securing your IoT, or “Internet of Things”. According to Wikipedia, the term IoT refers to, “the network of devices, vehicles, and home appliances that contain electronics, software, actuators, and connectivity which allows these things to connect, interact and exchange data.”

Securing these items may seem like a lot of work, but essentially it comes down to practicing these simple security tips: avoiding default (or easy-to-crack) passwords, updating your devices regularly (including your smartphones and tablets), and only using trusted WiFi networks.

If you’ve taken all the measures listed above, you’re one step closer to being a cyber-savvy expert.