Unlike regular gyms, the cybersecurity “gym” is a massive resource, available at all hours of the day, helping you grow your online muscles. What, exactly, does this mean? Building cybersecurity muscles refers to virtual exercises that boost online defenses to stop threats and threat actors from breaching your security and privacy.
This metaphorical gym is essential today because cyber threats are growing in number and sophistication, with people spending more time on computers and devices for work, communication, and entertainment. Let’s take a look at a few examples of these dangers.
- Malware: Malicious software like adware, spyware, computer viruses, computer worms, Trojans, ransomware, and rootkits can harm your devices in various ways.
- Phishing attacks: These fake emails, text messages, and phone calls will try to deceive you into sharing sensitive information, such as your name, address, phone number, or credit card numbers. They may also trick you into downloading malware.
- Network attacks: Fake Wi-Fi hotspots or man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks take advantage of weak network security to steal your valuable data or attack your contacts.
- Online scams: Cybercriminals resort to online scams, such as those related to romance, cryptocurrency, and tech-support scams. The primary goal is to drop malware on your systems or steal your money.
Enhancing your digital defenses is easier said than done. Not only must you build your awareness, but you must use the right tools. Below are some ways you can build your cybersecurity muscles.
Start with a Few Free Anti-Malware App Trials
It would be best if you had a comprehensive cybersecurity solution across all your endpoints to protect you from basic malware like a macro virus or a more sophisticated threat like ransomware or Trojans. The solution should ideally be from a reputable and experienced player in the cybersecurity space with an unquestionable track record of developing leading anti-malware technology.
If you don’t have this level of protection, you may download a free trial for an anti-malware program. You can then evaluate the product and check for these core characteristics:
- Software intelligence
- User interface (UI)
- User experience (UX)
- Troubleshooting support
- Browser level protection
- Update process
Once you find the right anti-malware product, you can purchase the full version to ensure uninterrupted 24 x 7 protection across all your devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptops.
An anti-malware suite should also inadvertently help shield your Internet of Things (IoT) devices from attackers.
For example, a smart doorbell can be vulnerable to malware if devices accessing it are infected. For added security, regularly update your devices so that software vulnerabilities are patched.
Purchase a Reputable VPN Client
A virtual private network (VPN) helps build your cybersecurity muscles further by encrypting your network. All network traffic will be encrypted if your VPN client is on. That means your data will travel in gibberish form, and hackers cannot read them.
A VPN will help shield you from the network attacks listed above by encrypting your data and masking your location. Without your location, IP address scammers may find it more challenging to trick you.
You can take advantage of several free trials from reputable VPN providers before choosing and signing up. Also, you may consider avoiding free VPNs because they often lack the technology and servers to offer a secure and stress-free experience. Some free VPN service providers have also been caught spying on their users and selling their bandwidth.
In addition to a VPN, activate your network firewall and set complex passwords for your router and Wi-Fi to keep bad actors from breaking into your system.
The three exercises mentioned above are mostly passive. Everything that is cyber-connected requires a healthy dose of skepticism.
That’s why you must learn about social engineering, a popular psychological manipulation method used by threat actors to trick their targets. The most common example of a social engineering attack is phishing.
Threat actors use phishing to infect your systems with malware through malicious email attachments, links, downloads, and websites. Besides learning to recognize social engineering attacks, protect your accounts with complex passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA).
The right tools and knowledge can help develop your cybersecurity muscles and prevent hackers from stealing your sensitive information and money or harming your devices. It may seem like a long process, but your data and systems are worth protecting.