The following are 7 of the top security threats to watch out for in 2014 and how to avoid them.
Malware and viruses
Malware is essentially used to disrupt computer operations, gain access to private computer systems and/or gather sensitive information. Up-to-date malware detection and antivirus programs remain the most effective defense against malicious software and viruses.
Ransomware is one type of malware which the latest version, Cryptolocker, uses very strong encryption to make users’ files inaccessible for extortion purposes. Effective malware detection will go a long way in preventing attacks, as will being careful with email attachments you were not expecting.
Botnets are internet computers that have been set up to forward transmissions, such as spam and viruses to other computers. However, botnets have to get on your machine first, and administrative privileges are needed for installation. As such, do not run your computer as an administrator, avoid suspicious content, keep updated antivirus or spyware, and do not install software from untrustworthy sources.
Mobile phones and wireless enabled devices are targeted by malicious software that causes the system to collapse or leak confidential information. Mobile devices should be treated like desktops and laptops. Download and install a legitimate antivirus application, scan your phone regularly and always keep your Bluetooth function off when not in use, particularly in unknown places.
Website hacking is in most cases an attempt to break into the password-protected section of a website, enabling the hacker to change the website’s content or even change the password. Some ways you can protect your website include: combining up-to-date website malware detection with web filtering and runtime detection or host intrusion prevention; installing security plug-ins; avoiding or removing unnecessary site plug-ins; using unique passwords; and changing all default admin passwords.
Spam refers to unsolicited bulk messages, usually advertising, that are sent indiscriminately from electronic messaging systems. These can usually be avoided by using spam filters and using a disposable email address for online purchases or writing in newsgroups. In addition, avoid opening spam emails or clicking on links in them.
Social engineering describes a non-technical type of intrusion that largely relies on human interaction and usually involves tricking people in order to breach security procedures. Some things you can do not to fall prey to social engineering is to avoid running executable e-mail attachments, and not to provide your personal information, particularly usernames and passwords, over the phone or via email.