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Cyber fraud is rising exponentially as the internet grows, transcending geographical and socio-economic boundaries. Cybercriminals stole billions of dollars in 2021 by defrauding people online. This amount is only expected to grow further in the coming years. Being prepared to protect yourself from cyber fraud through software and hardware measures is essential.
Computer security refers to securing and protecting computers and their software and hardware components. The internet has contributed many novel threats to computer systems. With any security, the objective is to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of data on the devices.
Firewalls, antivirus software, email security, access control and application security enhance computer security. There are several kinds of threats which can sabotage a computer:
Virus: A program that executes itself, inserts its code, and modifies the existing programs to perform specific actions to benefit its creator. When the virus succeeds in replicating itself, the affected area is said to be "infected" with a virus.
Malware: An umbrella term for certain trojan horses, viruses and worms that destroy the target device or obtain information without the user's consent.
Trojan horse: Often confused with a virus, a Trojan horse works to steal information from, hijack or disrupt the computer. It often poses as benign code or software, tricking the user into executing or loading the program. Once loaded, a Trojan horse can perform actions as per its goal.
Worm: Unlike other malware, a worm can enter a system through a software vulnerability. It can modify, delete or install a program from the internet, deplete a computer's resources and bandwidth and even shut down a network by overloading it with requests.
Cyber security is a subset of computer security with narrower protection scope. It is concerned with the integrity of computers and their components, networks and any attached equipment.
Proper cyber security ensures the safety of your devices and networks from the attacks, resulting from an external device or when connected to the internet.
The question arises: who needs cyber security? Essentially, everyone connected to the internet could benefit from proper protection and security measures. Appropriate cyber security is the ultimate line of defence against cyber-attacks meant to compromise computers, steal data or breach a system to obtain sensitive information.
There have been hundreds of cyber-attacks across the world concerning individual computers. A few of the noteworthy ones have left the users scrambling for damage control:
Melissa Virus: The early ‘90s sent a unit of the FBI into action as the mass-mailing virus affected over 100,000 Windows OS-based computers involving large corporations and millions of email accounts. The virus spread through an email containing the subject line "Important Message From" with the receiver's username at the end.
Slammer: Affecting over 200,000 computers, the virus randomly selected IP addresses and loaded itself on the victim's machine. From there, it launched a series of Denial of Service (DOS) attacks on other machines and networks, slowing down the Internet traffic. The loss from this cyber attack was estimated at £600 million.
WannaCry: This cyberattack by a ransomware worm travelled across the seven seas and affected 250,000 computers across 150 countries. It locked out these computers and demanded a certain sum in cryptocurrency, primarily in Bitcoin.
As the internet grows and penetrates diverse demographics worldwide, cyber security threats will continue to rise in parallel. Stay updated with the types of cyber security attacks that come from using a computer.
Phishing: This practice involves hackers creating a fake page or template similar to an email service or the login page of a bank or social media platform. They use this page to gain sensitive information or user credentials. Hackers take the user to a third-party URL where the template is hosted, imitating the original page to retrieve credit card details, PIN codes and other sensitive data.
Denial of Service (DOS): A type of cyberattack where the computer's network is flooded with requests, disrupting the "handshake", a process where two devices establish a communication connection for exchanging information, which in this case is for the internet. It results in a network breakdown of the victim's computer.
Drive-by downloads: These occur when the user visits a specific malicious web page that loads another page in a new window or tab by itself. From there, a program gets downloaded on the computer without consent. It can cause long-lasting damage and irreparable loss of data and information.
The cyber threats are infinite, but robust security measures and techniques are used to ward off viruses, malware and other threats to your computer. Protect yourself from online fraud through these methods.
Keep software up to date
New vulnerabilities are constantly surfacing on the internet concerning a hardware component, software or the operating system. Keeping them up-to-date with the latest available updates prevents hackers from taking advantage of any loopholes.
For Windows Update
- Open the Start Menu search and go to the first result after typing Update. Click on the Check for Updates button to get the latest available updates.
- Search for Device Manager from the Start Menu search and head to the first option. Check each of the hardware components individually for driver updates.
For web browser
- Check for updates by going to the About page of the web browser. If a new update is found, it will automatically download and install it within a few minutes.
Use a virtual keyboard
When typing private information such as credit card numbers and passwords, it is crucial to prevent keyloggers, which record the user's keystrokes on the keyboard to obtain sensitive information.
Several banking websites and high-security web pages offer virtual on-screen keyboards of their own. Users can rely on the in-built on-screen keyboard in Windows, which can be accessed by pressing Ctrl+Windows+O on the physical keyboard.
Check your URL and the HTTPS connection
Phishing attempts involve misleading URLS containing different spellings. For instance, when a user wants to visit Bank of America's website at www.BankofEngland.co.uk and instead lands on www.BankofEnglandd.co.uk, hypothetically set up by a hacker. They can gain the user’s credentials through the phishing page.
Checking the exact URL of the website and its spelling is essential before entering sensitive information or credentials.
There should be HTTPS in the address when entering login credentials or private information on a website with the correct URL. It ensures that the connection between the website and the user's computer is secure, using encryption with TLS protocol.
HP Sure Click
Sure Click is HP's hardware-level security measure. It opens untrusted applications, files, websites and documents in a secured and isolated virtual environment container. Any malware, virus or harmful Trojan horse opens in the sandbox area where the user can check the untrusted entity before exposing their computer to it.
Open any file, app, or suspicious website inside HP Sure Click to contain threats inside the secure bubble, quarantining them before bringing them to your main computer directories.
Many financial services and banking institutions offer MFA as an additional security measure. Once a user enters their credentials, an OTP is sent to a device, preferably a smartphone loaded with an MFA application. It needs to be set up beforehand with the concerned service or website to work.
Antivirus software and anti-malware programs hog considerable computer resources, leaving less room for other applications to function to their full potential. HP's Sure Sense is an AI-algorithm-powered antivirus which does not slow the computer. The system works alongside Windows Defender, the in-built antivirus on Windows.
Use VPN for online activities
Hackers can snoop on a user's online activities through various techniques such as DNS hijacking or packet sniffing. A virtual private network provides a secure encrypted layer on the internet, ensuring that no data is leaked in transmission. All the financial transactions and sensitive information stay private, reducing the risk of monetary losses.
HP Sure Start
Firmware malware can have far-reaching ramifications, with functions to gain control of the computer hidden within the firmware code. Powered by hardware enforcement through the HP Endpoint Security Controller (HP ESC), HP Sure Start makes sure that the system boots using the original HP BIOS.
If a tampered or altered BIOS is detected, the system uses a protected copy to revert to the original state. It performs an automatic repair of BIOS and firmware corruption.
Enable firewalls and Microsoft Defender
The inadequate and ineffective days of Microsoft Defender are behind us. Microsoft has armed up its in-house security tool to combat all threats, eliminating the need for a third-party antivirus program.
A firewall acts as a safety net for the applications and traffic coming to the computer from the internet and other connected networks. Make sure both are enabled by going to the Windows Security menu.
HP Sure Run
Sure Run keeps key security processes running and guards against malware attacks, monitoring the system and alerting the user of any changes. It automatically restarts stopped processes and reverts any changes to the files made by unauthorised agents by running on a hardware endpoint level.
Keep your computer secure and ready for online transactions using these key primary protection measures. Add any of the further security measures offered by HP, and the malware and viruses will have to set up camp anywhere but your computer.
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