Anyone that has owned a computer over the last few decades will know that getting malware on a computer can at best be a serious headache, and at worst actually destroy a person’s life. This is why the IT industry has invested countless billions into cybersecurity, including resources to help normal people try and avoid getting their computers infected.
Unfortunately, as the industry has invested in anti-malware practises, bad actors have put in just as much effort to try and get their bad software to adapt to modern safety guards. Much of the time, the weakest link in the chain is the user themselves, so let’s take a look at ways in which a user can successfully protect themes against modern malware.
Ditch Antivirus Programs
It might seem counter-intuitive at first, but there are a lot of underlying and fundamental problems with modern antivirus software. For starters, most of the more dangerous attacks are known as zero-hour exploits, which means that antivirus software databases will likely not have any defence against these kinds of exploits. On top of that, many antivirus companies have been found to intentionally put their users at risk in order to keep them buying new products, and it’s become a serious problem.
For the most part, the only kind of protection that a user needs on their machine if it’s running Windows is Windows Defender, which comes built right into both Windows 10 and Windows 11. Just ensure that Windows is updated to make the most of the latest Windows Defender releases.
Avoid Downloading Suspicious Files
Another way in which a user can be infected, and perhaps one of the most common and oldest methods around, is by getting the user to download the malware directly on to their computer. This can sometimes be done with a man-in-the-middle attack, where the bad actor injects a fake website into the URL and provides a link that looks perfectly innocent, but ends up infecting the computer and locking it, which is a huge pain when trying to play video poker for real money.
This is why it’s important to only download files from trusted websites, and to make sure that the page offering the download link is properly secure, which is indicated by “HTTPS” in the URL bar. Never download from a page that only has “HTTP” as this means that the connection is unencrypted.
Another extremely weak link, and one of the causes of most security breaches, is the lack of a proper password. In general, users do not practise good password management, using simple and easy-to-guess passwords for their most important accounts. This is especially a problem when a simple password and email are used for multiple accounts, as it gives the bad actor a much larger attack surface, allowing them to break into many accounts at a single time. Using a password manager, such as Bitwarden, as well as long and complex passwords, can help the user avoid having their accounts breached.