The technology space is marred with several lurking dangers, including hackers, viruses, ransomware, worms, and spyware. All these threats can harm your computer, network or even your wallet. It is scary to learn how easily cybercriminals can steal your identity when you innocently click a malicious link embedded in your email. Fortunately, there are several measures you can take to protect yourself and your business from cyber threats.
A VPN Could Help
As the cyberspace increasingly face a myriad of sophisticated threats, internet users are scrambling for reliable, free a VPN download to safeguard user privacy and security.
HP (Hewlett Packard) Company has noticed that its customers are continually putting themselves at risk by connecting to unsecured public Wi-Fi networks in airports, restaurants, and coffee shops. To help its users stay anonymous and secure, HP has partnered with ExpressVPN to have the VPN preinstalled in some of its devices.
This service is currently available on HP’s latest Spectre x360 13, and users who purchase this laptop model will be happy to enjoy VPN protection and access all ExpressVPN apps. Users will be given free 30 days to test and see if the product is a good fit, after which they can choose to purchase a monthly or yearly subscription.
The partnership is not a case of bloatware being installed on your device, but a product of months of hard work from the two tech teams, including a vigorous security review process. To show the level of trust it has in the VPN, HP has pinned the ExpressVPN software to the taskbar.
Even though the Spectre x360 13 is the only device currently having the preinstalled VPN, HP plans to roll out this integration to more of its products. If you have no plans of buying this laptop model, you can expect more innovative models coming up in the next couple of months.
The ExpressVPN Trust Center
ExpressVPN has been trusted by several users across the globe, thanks to its high level of user privacy and security. The VPN uses a combination of software, hardware, and human ingenuity to provide industry-leading privacy solutions. ExpressVPN approaches security through four strategies:
- Make a system extremely difficult to compromise
- Minimize the damage if it at all it is compromised
- Minimize the time the system stays compromised
- Validate the above, both internally and externally
To understand this approach, let’s look at cyber protection from a physical point of view. If, for instance, you want to protect a castle, the first step is to make it difficult for thieves to compromise it. This may involve building high walls, setting up steel gates, and surrounding it with a moat full of fierce crocodiles.
Minimizing the damage if it is compromised may involve making treasure rooms as bare as possible. That way, the thieves won’t be able to steal much even if they gain access to the castle. Thirdly, minimizing the time your system remains compromised means having guard patrols around the castle at regular intervals. So, the criminals will be ejected as soon as possible.
Finally, validating the three steps involves testing how secure the castle is. This is done through practicing to attack the castle or inviting qualified outsiders to try penetrating the castle and give reports.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself from Cybercrime
Other than VPNs, here are some other steps you can take to protect your computing device and network from cyber attacks.
Use a Strong Password
You need to set up strong and unique passwords for all your devices and online accounts. Ensure that the password is a combination of letters (both lowercase and uppercase), numbers, and special characters like %&#@. A strong password should also be long enough, typically between 8 to 16 characters. Additionally, you should never write down your passwords in a diary or notebook close to your device.
After setting up a strong password, keep updating it periodically to prevent brute force attacks. A brute force attack is a technique used by hackers to try out multiple character combinations to decode your password. It utilizes high computing powers to generate thousands of possible combinations per second. The harder and longer your password is, the more difficult it is for cybercriminals to crack it using a brute force attack. So, be sure to update your password at least every three months.
Install Antivirus Software
Anti-virus software helps to keep your computer network protected from viruses. Anti-virus software will actively scan for viruses trying to penetrate your email, system files, and your operating system. Always go for quality anti-virus software programs that run periodic updates, allowing you to stay protected from new viruses that are created daily. Go for reputable providers and look at the features of the product, e.g., daily automatic updates and compatibility with a myriad of devices and operating systems.
You may also need to consider the cost of the antivirus software, and the most expensive solution may not always be the best. Again, free antivirus solutions may appeal to your pocket but will less likely protect you from the most lethal viruses.
Install Anti-malware and Anti-spyware Software
Malware and spyware can equally damage your network just like viruses. It’s important to install antispyware and antimalware software to your devices and run a full system scan on your devices. The software should be able to periodically update spyware and malware definition lists and quarantine and remove spyware and malware. For most users, it’s always cost-effective to purchase anti-virus software with malware and spyware removal capability. However, having a multi-layered approach to system security is always recommended. By having a software solution that is tasked with specific functionality, you can afford a more focused attack against those threats.
Perform Regular Full System Scans
Viruses, malware, and spyware continuously evolve. As a result, new threats can invade your computer even with these solutions activated. Full system scans can help find, quarantine, and remove malicious agents from your network as soon as they gain entry and prevent further damage.
Create a Periodic System Backup Plans
If hackers happen to infiltrate your device or harmful viruses, malware, or ransomware gain entry into your computer, you could lose lots of useful data. Creating a periodic backup schedule is a great way to ensure your data is retrieved should something happen to your computing device. One important backup method is cloud backup, but you could also back up your data in external hard drives. A cloud backup allows you to store your data remotely and access it whenever you want over the internet. An external drive, on the other hand, allows you to hook up the drive to your computer and copy your updated files for physical storage.
Keep Your Computing Device Up to Date
It is critical to run regular computer system updates. Microsoft, for example, provides periodic updates to their applications to repair any bugs and abnormalities that may exist in the system. If you don’t regularly update your operating system, cybercriminals can exploit the bugs and abnormalities in the system. So, be sure to update your devices regularly.
A network firewall acts as a perimeter wall around your computer. It blocks unauthorized incoming and outgoing access to your network. When setting up or configuring a new computer, take advantage of the built-in firewall protection for your operating system (Apple or Windows). You can also update your firewall settings based on your preference.
Be Careful with Your Email
Whenever you access your email, be cautious with sources and links. Hackers can exploit emails in a myriad of ways, like embedding viruses or spyware in email attachments. Avoid opening emails from sources you don’t recognize. Delete them from your inbox immediately and mark them as spam or block them entirely.
Browse the Internet with Caution
Even the safest websites can harbor spyware and malware. It takes just a single click to become infected with spyware or malware. Many websites are often camouflaged to look like real websites but there are avenues for hackers to penetrate your computer. Always crosscheck the URL spellings to ensure you’re visiting the right website. Also, avoid clicking on pop-ups, ads, or links to other websites you don’t intend to visit.
With these cybersecurity tips, you can effectively protect yourself from a myriad of threats online. VPN encryption is a great way to secure your online traffic, especially when browsing from unsecured, public Wi-Fi networks at the airport, restaurant, or coffee shop. Keep in mind that educating yourself about emerging cyber threats will allow you to remain secure in the online space.