Unlike regular gyms, the cybersecurity “gym” is a massive resource, available at all hours of the day, helping you grow your online muscles.

This metaphorical gym is essential nowadays because cyberthreats are growing in numbers and sophistication, with people spending more time on computers and devices for work, communication, and entertainment. 

But what do we mean by building cybersecurity muscles? Essentially, this virtual exercise boosts your online defenses to stop threats and threat actors from breaching your security and privacy. 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 all harm your computers or devices in various ways. 
  • Phishing attacks: These fake emails, texts, and phone calls will try to deceive you into sharing your sensitive information like your name, address, phone number, or credit card numbers, or trick you into downloading malware. 
  • Network attacks: Threats like fake WiFi hotspot or man-in-the-middle attacks take advantage of weak network security to steal your valuable data or attack your contacts.  
  • Online scams: Cybercriminals are resorting to online scams like romance, cryptocurrency, or tech-support scams to drop malware on your systems or steal your money. 

Of course, enhancing your digital defenses is much easier said than done. Not only must you build your awareness, but you must use the right tools.

Start With a Few Free Anti-Malware App Trials

You need 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 top anti-malware technology. 

If you don’t have this level of protection, download a free trial for an anti-malware program and evaluate the product and its respective core characteristics: 

  • Software intelligence
  • UI – user interface
  • UX -user experience
  • Troubleshooting support
  • Browser level protection
  • Update process

Once you select the right anti-malware product, you can purchase the full version to ensure uninterrupted twenty-four-seven protection across all your devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptops and more. 

An anti-malware suite should also inadvertently help shield essential IoT devices you may have at home from attackers. 

For example, a smart doorbell can be vulnerable to malware from any device that accesses it, like a laptop or smartphone. For further security, download the latest patches for your IoT devices to prevent hackers from taking advantage of software vulnerabilities. 

Purchase a Reputable VPN Client

Again, use several free trials from reputable technology firms in the cybersecurity space in order to zero in on a secure VPN. A VPN, also known as a Virtual Private Network, will further build your cybersecurity muscles by encrypting your network. By default, if your VPN client is on, all your traffic will be encrypted. Or in simple terms, encrypted data will travel in gibberish form, which hackers cannot read and use against you. 

A VPN will also 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 may consider avoiding free VPNs though, 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 own users and selling their bandwidth.

In addition to a VPN, activate your network firewall and set complex passwords for your router and WiFi to keep bad actors from breaking into your system. 

Cyberthreat Knowledge

The three above-mentioned exercises are mostly passive steps. Everything that is cyber-connected requires a healthy dose of skepticism.

That’s why you must learn about social engineering, which is a popular psychological manipulation method used by threat actors to manipulate their targets. The most common example of social engineering attacks is phishing. 

Threat actors leverage phishing to infect your systems with malware through malicious emails, attachments, links, downloads, and websites. Besides learning to recognize social engineering attacks, protect your accounts with complex passwords and two-factor authentication. 

The right tools and knowledge can help develop your cybersecurity muscles and prevent hackers from stealing your sensitive information, money, or harming your computers or devices. It may seem like a long process, but your data and systems are worth protecting.