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8 ways to fend off spyware, malware and ransomware

Paul Mah | Sept. 17, 2015
Recent increases in cyberattacks and identity theft make it seem like the whole Internet is turning into the Dark Web. But while no system is unhackable, there are some painless precautions you can follow that might help keep you step ahead of the bad guys.

Helps prevent against: spyware, phishing 

3. Check the list of authorized devices

A common practice for many app-based online services is to create a unique security token after the initial authentication to eliminate the need to key in the password again. The list of authorized devices is typically easy to access, which is a great way to check if someone else is accessing an account on the sly. Moreover, users who believe that their password may have been compromised are well-advised to delete all authorized devices immediately after changing their password, which will de-authenticate unauthorized parties.

Helps prevent against: spyware, phishing 

4. Install anti-malware software

This will sound cliché, but the easiest way to protect yourself from common malware is to install appropriate anti-malware software. This approach does not work well against more sophisticated hackers wielding custom malware on a spear phishing rampage. And some studies have shown that standalone anti-virus software is no longer effective in preventing the increasingly sophisticated level of attacks being used today

Still, anti-malware software does offer a good basic defense against known and older malware, freeing up their cerebral matter to discern phishing attempts. AV-TEST, an independent IT security provider, publishes an updated list of some of the best anti-malware software for Windows users.

Helps prevent against: malware, spyware, ransomware 

5. Don’t delay your security updates

If you’re like most people, it’s easy to ignore those pesky pop-up boxes imploring you to install software updates, even when they include important security patches. The bottom line is that doing so places you at great risk. Hackers can take just days or even hours to dissemble the latest security updates once they’re released by software companies, determine the problem they address and to construct a malware that exploits it.

While the option of denying updates is no longer available to Windows 10 users, most software lets you delay the installation of updates indefinitely. With this in mind, you should attempt to load patches as soon or as often as possible to stay protected.

Helps prevent against: malware, spyware, ransomware 

6. Never give out your passwords, ever

This should be obvious, but it's still a security plague: You should never give out your passwords to anyone, period. Legitimate administrators will already have the appropriate level of access to perform whatever actions they require – without having to ask for your password. As it is, anyone asking you for your password should immediately be suspect, especially if it happens over a faceless medium such as email or a chat app. In which case you have to assume the sender’s accounts have been compromised.

Helps prevent against: phishing 

7. Stop clicking on links in emails

 

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