With each new year comes a new assortment of prevalent cyber threats. Given the intense speed at which new viruses and malware appear on the scene, none of us can afford to treat cybersecurity as an afterthought in 2021. In the absence of consistent vigilance, our computers can become susceptible to a growing number of threats. So, if having your data stolen, your personal information compromised and your PC taken over by malicious forces don’t strike you as appealing prospects, there’s no time like the present to start bolstering your digital defenses.
Invest in the Right Antivirus Software
Popular operating systems like Windows and macOS are equipped with virus-fighting elements. While built-in virus protection can certainly prove useful, it should not be viewed as your only line of defense against cyber threats. To get the most out of the protection provided by your operating system, you’ll need to invest in dedicated antivirus software. Working in tandem with your O.S., the right antivirus program will detect, identify and stamp out a broad range of viruses and malware.
As anyone who’s well-versed in cybersecurity will tell you, not all antivirus software is equally dependable. While certain programs offer sweeping system-wide protection, others leave quite a bit to be desired. To help ensure that you don’t get stuck with a lemon, take care to do your homework before investing in antivirus software. First up, look for programs that provide protection from the threats that concern you the most. Secondly, make sure any program you have your eye on is updated on a regular basis. The more updates you receive, the more protection you’ll have against new and emerging threats. You should also take the opinions of your fellow consumers into account when selecting the right antivirus software. Perusing assorted consumer feedback message boards and websites can be a great way to determine how reliable a piece of software – or any product, for that matter – truly is.
Keep Important Software Up to Date
Many virus developers take advantage of security flaws found in operating systems and pieces of software. With this in mind, make a point of installing updates for key pieces of software and your operating system as they become available. Unfortunately, since update installation can be slightly cumbersome and may require you to stop whatever you’re doing on your PC, many of us have a tendency to let crucial updates pile up. While this may save you a little bit of time in the short term, it can also leave your computer wide open to a bevy of cyber threats. So, the next time you’re tempted to place an important update on the backburner, just remember that stepping away from your PC for a few minutes while an update installs is far less taxing than combating viruses and malware.
Exercise Caution When Using Public Wi-Fi
All of us have used public Wi-Fi at some point. Whether you’re looking up directions in an unfamiliar locale, checking your email on the go or scrolling through your social media feeds while riding public transit, easily-accessible public Wi-Fi can prove very convenient. Unfortunately, this is something of a double-edged sword. The ease of accessibility public networks offer makes them veritable playgrounds for data thieves, virus spreaders and cybercriminals.
For maximum security, it’s generally a good idea to steer clear of public Wi-Fi. However, if this simply isn’t an option for you, make sure to use a virtual private network (VPN) whenever you access a public network. A good VPN ensures that all of your data is routed through an encrypted virtual tunnel, making it all but impossible for unwelcome third parties to gain access to your computer or personal info. Although most VPNs charge users a small fee, free virtual private networks aren’t terribly uncommon.
With viruses and malware becoming more widespread than ever, it’s imperative that all of us recognize the threat they pose. Failure to take cybersecurity seriously is practically guaranteed to result in a compromised PC and rising stress levels. Not only can these cyberthreats impact your computer’s performance, they also stand to make your personal data less secure and potentially deliver it into the wrong hands. While this all sounds very scary, keeping your PC virus-free isn’t nearly as challenging as you may think. In the quest to stave off viruses and malicious software, the measures discussed above are likely to serve you well.