Ever thought of the internet as a battlefield? We have. It’s us against the army of bad guys, in a never-ending series of internet security attacks. But “us” doesn’t include only the companies providing internet security software; it also includes you. We work together to make sure your family, your PC and yourself stay safe from the bad guys’ offensives. And these come in great numbers and variety, depending on their specialities and skills.
Who are the bad guys compromising your internet security?
Knowing your enemy’s strengths and operating methods makes you stronger. It gives you advantage and helps you understand how to defend yourself from their attacks. Here’s an overview of the cybercriminals most likely to compromise your internet security while you’re online.
- Malware creators. They are programmers who develop malicious software such as viruses, Trojans, spyware, computer worms, bots, keyloggers etc. They the “producers” in the criminal chains that can compromise your internet security, and they often sell their work to other cybercrooks.
- Spammers. They send out billions of messages via e-mail, social media or other communication platforms, often for commercial purposes. Spammers don’t usually pose a major threat to your internet security, but their messages can promote questionable products or services; for example pharmaceuticals that instead of getting you on the mend, cause further medical problems. Plus, they can get really annoying when they clutter your inbox with unrequested information.
- Hackers. They exploit network and software vulnerabilities, as well as unsecured wireless connections, and get into your system. This way they can intercept data you send and receive – clearly, they put your internet security at high risk, as they can steal precious information digitally stored.
- Botnet operators. Also known as bot masters, these bad guys start commanding your PC or smartphone once it gets infected with a computer/mobile bot. They can: send mass spam and malware to thousands of devices, or from your device; hack systems, disrupt network connections, open ad-filled or malicious web pages and so on.
- Trojanizers. They usually leverage on the popularity of mobile apps. They trojanize legit popular apps – insert malicious code in the apps’ code, usually a Trojan – and then put them up for download on legit app stores. Once you download a trojanized app onto your phone, the Trojan starts sending your contact list and other sensitive information to the trojanizer, or dialling premium numbers, racking up your bill.
- Web designers. They design fake web pages promoting, for example, fake internet security software or other web tools and apps that, once downloaded, bring with them some form of malware. Malicious web designers can also create fake webpages; for example, a page similar to the login page of your online bank account, which is prompted by banking Trojans in man-in-the-browser attacks.
- Phishers. They usually send you alarming messages – such as “your account has been closed. Click here” – that ask you for your credit card details, bank account number, passwords and usernames. Once they get hold of them, they use them to access your bank account and transfer money, or your social media accounts and perform malicious actions on your behalf – in cases like these, the phishers are also called identity thieves.
- Social media scammers. Their favourite scams involve posting enticing messages on social networks where they can easily spread. These messages/posts/comments are usually accompanied by links that promise you discounts, promotions or scandalous content (fake YouTube videos, photos or articles). But when you click on them you actually help spreading that scam. You’re also urged to complete a survey with data about you. In some cases, links can be malware-infected, which can really shake up your internet security.
- Link poisoners. They are SEO specialists who use illegal techniques to push malware-infected websites up in your search results. They make use of popular keywords relating to celebrity gossip or major world news, to make you access those websites.
- Malvertisers. They create malicious ads and spread them all over the web. These ads can lead to websites that host malware, fake surveys or phishing scams that trick you into entering personal information.
- Cyberstalkers. They start harassing you via e-mail, instant messaging or messages posted on discussion groups, social networks and so on. They usually focus on a specific target and their messages can often be threatening. Depending on the information you provide, for example Facebook check-ins, they can also start following you in the real world. So, not only your internet security is at risk, but also your physical security.
How to defend yourself against them?
Apply common sense:
Keep a certain level of anonymity on social media – don’t post your whole birthday, your address and your phone number. Also, don’t check into places often and on a regular basis.
If you come across offers, promotions and discounts that sound too good to be true, they probably are. Make sure they’re genuine by researching and checking with their promoter.
Don’t give login and bank account credentials to anyone – not even your friends, especially if they ask you via e-mail or SMS. If you receive a threatening message from your bank or a service provider asking you for credit card, bank account details or passwords, check the validity of the message with their Support team – over the phone or in person!
Secure your device, your network and your internet connection:
If you have a Wi-fi network at home, make sure you use a strong password to secure it. Also, enable wireless encryption to prevent strangers from “seeing” your network and accessing it.
Get a strong Firewall installed on your PC to protect it from malicious traffic. BullGuard’s internet security suite comes with an extra-tough Firewall that detects all types of hacker attacks and protects all types of network connectivity.
Get a complete internet security suite to protect you from all types of malware and keep your computer fast and clean. BullGuard Internet Security 12 comes with a wide range of security features, including an Antiphishing tool, Behavioural Detection that spots and removes even the newest types of malware, Safe Browsing that flags all malicious links on Facebook and search engines, Spamfilter that keeps your inbox clean, Vulnerability Scanner that spots security holes in your system and recommends patches and updates, and more.