Laptop Security – Easy to Use Security Apps to Protect Money, Data, Photos, Messages, email and Banking Apps on a Laptop Right Now
Recently the US Department of Homeland Security issued a warning to US citizens about the increase in a type of malicious cyber attack involving Emotet malware. This malware was developed by an organized hacking group to steal banking credentials. The cyber attacks focus on private and public sector businesses as well as small governments.
Emotet infects computers and quickly spreads to all the computers connected to the same internet connection. Hackers send spam emails with harmful attachments that download the malware to your computer. It works quickly to steal personal information and money.
Emotet is also involved in even more email scams. The new Coronavirus has presented an opportunity for hackers to play on people’s fears and trick them into downloading malware that can steal information. Unfortunately, as with many natural disasters and world crises, hackers are spamming people with Coronavirus themed emails. The spam campaigns contain Coronavirus related content with links and attachments designed to look like they come from the US Center for Disease Control. Some phishing emails contain links to malicious websites. Unsuspecting spam recipients looking for virus information about the Coronavirus end up losing money or with with stolen identities.
Use Antivirus Software
Hackers send computer viruses, malware, spyware, ransomware and other types of malware through thousands of spam email phishing campaigns. If an unsuspecting email recipient downloads an innocent-looking email attachment, such as a Microsoft Word file, an Adobe PDF document, or a zip file that is malware in disguise, they may inadvertently launch a malware attack.
Other spam campaigns send emails with links to malicious websites. The links send the reader to malicious websites that phish for passwords or launch a malware download.
Sometimes one malware downloads even more malware programs causing further damage to the infected device.
Antivirus programs can detect emails that contain harmful attachments or links to malicious websites. A quality antivirus program is updated by its developer with the latest information about malware attacks, malicious websites, and information about spam emails hackers are sending. An antivirus program is also capable of blocking your computer or phone from visiting websites that are known to steal passwords or money from visitors.
It’s best to use a quality antivirus program that is always updated and works on all of your computers and phones. With the latest information and libraries about malware, viruses, and spam that can harm your computer, hack into your information, or steal your money a reputable antivirus app will help protect you from harm.
Learn About Data Privacy
People understand that their information is being farmed from social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, but many don’t truly understand how it’s being used by advertisers. But companies that want you to buy their products aren’t the only ones who want your sensitive information. Hackers steal social media passwords sent across public WiFi and use it to break into more valuable online accounts like banks and credit cards.
With a basic understanding of data privacy, you’ll learn how something seemingly innocuous like posting a vacation photo or your hometown can lead to your bank account being hacked or your credit card number stolen.
Learn about the basics of cyber security and data privacy, try one of these courses.
- IBM Data Science Professional Certificate by IBM
- Mathematics for Machine Learningby Imperial College London
- Data Mining by University of Illinois
This is one of the easiest things you can do to protect your laptop, computer, router, or smartphone and it’s usually free. Be sure the operating system of each device you own is updated with the latest security patches. Apps should be kept up to date as well.
Set your device to accept automatic updates so you’ll have them as soon as they are available. I have my phone set to accept the update only when I’m connected to WiFi to save on data charges for my phone. Updating apps promptly will fix known security vulnerabilities and bugs. Although it’s true that some updates only bring new features and sometimes not for the better, many updates fix bugs and security issues that hackers could use to break into your device and steal information or money.
Use Two-factor Authentication
Use two-factor authentication (2FA) where it’s available. Two-factor authentication requires a second step to log into an online account, an app, or a device. An example of two-factor authentication is using a free app like Google Authenticator to require confirmation of a login attempt. Other 2FA methods include responding to an email or using a USB key fob as credentials.
Many online accounts and services can be set to require a response to an email or SMS text message to login to confirm your identity. Enabling 2FA ensures the person logging in is really you. It adds an extra layer of account security.
Two-factor authentication has to be set up ahead of time with some other form of authentication authorized in advance.
To take security one step further, enable more multi-factor authentication if available. As the name implies, it requires more than two actions to log in to an app, device, or online account.
Use Biometric Login
Biometric login enabled devices and apps use fingerprint scans or facial recognition to gain access. Biometrics are the best way to protect your device and all the information it contains from hackers or anyone else who might try to access your device. For example, if you lost your phone, the person who finds it might be able to see your photos and open your banking apps if the information is not protected. Anyone who accesses your email without permission can use it to reset the password on any account connected to that email address. When you secure access to your phone or laptop with biometric login, all of your private information is protected.
To use biometric login, you must have a device that supports it. In January 2020 Microsoft stopped supporting their Windows 7 operating system. There are no more security patches and no technical support available. Although this is a hassle for Windows 7 users, it may get them to upgrade their laptops and computers.
Even though it might cost you more, there are many devices that you can buy that come with Windows 10 installed that are less than the cost of buying a new Windows 10 operating system upgrade. Windows 10 has the latest security features including facial recognition and fingerprint scans. Most newer phones now support fingerprint scans and facial recognition and fingerprint scans for login credentials. This is the most secure way to protect all the information on your device and protect your money.
Use a Password Vault
If you don’t want to spend the money to upgrade to a device that supports biometric login like fingerprint scans and facial recognition but want more security for your online accounts, try a ppassword vault.
Hackers begin a campaign to break into sensitive accounts like banking websites and credit cards by sending phishing emails or scraping pubic information from social media accounts. The average person uses a password on multiple online accounts. If you’re using the same password for your email as you are for social media, a hacker may be able to use your credentials to steal your money from another online account. If a hacker can gain access to your email, they can use it to reset passwords on other more important online accounts. That is why it’s important to create a unique password for every online account and app that you use.
Michelle writes about cyber security, data privacy focusing on social media privacy as well as how to protect your IoT devices. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years and owns METRONY, LLC. Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Michelle published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers