As cybercriminals grow smarter and develop new ways to extract the information they want or cause chaos, it’s up to cybersecurity developers to develop ways to combat against these attacks.
One popular piece of software people swear by in their fight against hackers is the anti-virus, a program dedicated to detecting and killing any virus on your device. And while anti-viruses certainly have their uses, they’re not the only piece of security software out there, and it’s not enough to protect you from every threat out there, some of which I want to discuss.
3 Major Cybersecurity Risks That Circumvent Anti-Virus Programs
1. Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are as old as the Internet itself, and even predate it, depending on your definition of phishing. For now, we’ll define phishing as the practice of using social engineering or other forms of manipulation in order to trick someone into handing out data or personal information.
Phishing scams come in many forms: emails, advertisements, websites, and many more. You’ve probably encountered a few in your lifetime.
2. Ransomware Attacks
Cybercriminals have begun relying on ransomware in order to perform malicious deeds against users or companies. For example, 2017’s WannaCry ransomware attack made waves in the tech industry, causing millions of dollars in damages.
Since then, the number of ransomware attacks have increased, causing significant damages, financial loss, and even the ruin of certain small businesses. And while some anti-viruses can detect certain forms of ransomware, they remain largely ineffective.
Speaking of recent tech phenomenon, let’s discuss crypto-jacking, the process of using someone’s devices (tablet, phone, computer, etc.) to mine for cryptocurrency.
The world of cryptocurrency has grown significantly since the mid-2010’s, with many people investing into Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies. It’s grown so much, in fact, that cybercriminals figured out ways to create a sort of botnet out of other peoples’ devices, using them to mine for cryptocurrency.
Considering crypto-jacking usually never involves a virus, it’s safe to say that anti-viruses can’t protect your phone from becoming part of a mining hivemind.
5 Software Programs To Help Protect Against Threats
Now that we’ve gone over a few cybersecurity that can’t be circumvented with ant-virus software, I want to talk about software that can help you keep your devices safe. Some of these are basic pieces of software that require little setup, and some of these are for the more tech-experienced reading this.
1. Anti-Malware Programs
Let’s kick this list off by talking about the younger brother of anti-virus software, anti-malware software. Anti-malware software does exactly what it sounds like: scans your device(s) for any malware that may be present.
While some anti-viruses cover both viruses and other, minor forms of malware, many don’t. And anti-malware programs are capable of going more in-depth into what kinds of malware is present on your system. If you have adware on your system, a decent anti-malware service is enough to clean up your system.
2. A VPN
If you’re like me, you rely on public networks for a lot of your work. Maybe not right now, due to the pandemic situation currently going on. But you get my point: public networks allow you to work from “home” while getting away from the motions of sitting at the same spot for hours on end.
But public networks are dangerous, and many cybercriminals use them to poach information and data from unsuspecting targets. This is where VPNs come in.
A VPN app encrypts your device’s data, making sure a cybercriminal won’t be able to see what you’re doing or extract your data. These are essential for public networks in today’s society.
3. Password Managers
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you the importance of a strong password. Passwords protect our information, from minor details of the last time you subscribed to a game to your bank details. Strong passwords are important.
Yet many use weak passwords—even going as far as to reuse passwords for multiple accounts! I understand why, though—keeping track of passwords is a chore, and coming up with a unique password that you can remember for every account you have becomes annoying.
With a password manager, however, you won’t need to worry about this. Password managers store all of your passwords in an encrypted locker of sorts and generate strong passwords for you.
4. Encryption Software
Make sure your data isn’t vulnerable to stealing by encrypting all of it. Encryption software allows you to encrypt certain files and folders. Some software can even encrypt your entire hard drive!
Encrypting your files makes sure a cybercriminal can’t easily read all of it without sophisticated software. Why not give hackers a headache?
5. Vulnerability Scanners
Lastly, we have vulnerability scanners. The best offense is a good defense, and what better way to defend yourself than by patching up any vulnerabilities present on your device or network?
Vulnerability scanners comb through your network, looking for anything that can be exploited to harm you. After, the scanner will report to you any vulnerabilities found, allowing you to patch them up.