Do you have a PC running Windows 10 or macOS? If so, congratulations. These operating systems are more secure than ever and go a long way toward keeping you safe when you use your computer.
However, just because they’re more secure, don’t get lulled into a false sense of—well—security. Here’s why.
Viruses, Malware and Hacks Are On The Rise
The companies that publish computer operating systems have had a renewed focus on security. They employ thousands of highly skilled engineers who work to make sure their systems are as safe from threats as possible. They also push out security updates more frequently than ever, as they work to address major security issues that are discovered.
However, despite that increased emphasis on security, they are fighting an uphill battle. A report published by Symantec in 2014 uncovered 317 million new pieces of malware that were created that year alone—over one million new ones a day.
Not only is the volume of attacks on the rise, cyber criminals are trying new tactics. They’ve hidden malware inside software updates (that hit many Mac users who upgraded the popular Transmission BitTorrent client earlier this year), they’re hiding it on social media using fake “Like” buttons and other tricks, and there’s been a huge rise in a particularly disturbing new kind of malware called Ransomware. This one encrypts your PC’s storage, locking you out of your own files. To regain access, you have to pay a “ransom” which is typically in the $300 to $500 range for a key to decrypt the data. Kaspersky Lab says its security software fended off over 750,000 ransomware attacks in 2015.
OS security updates can’t address every issue that’s discovered, and they can’t be pushed out frequently enough to stay ahead of the bad guys.
In short, you can’t rely solely on your operating system to protect you. You should also install high quality security software. Skip the freeware and go with a reputable package like Bitdefender, Kaspersky Lab or McAfee. It’s worth paying the small cost because unlike the freeware publishers, these companies have enormous resources tracking malware and defending against it. They update frequently to combat newly identified threats. They offer proven results that are trusted not just by consumers, but also businesses and government agencies.
Before we get to the security software, a word on common sense. That’s actually your first line of defence. By common sense, I mean things like back up your computer. On an external drive or a cloud drive, so it is physically separate and can’t be infected by malware on your PC. Also, read any e-mails, messages or social media posts with a critical eye, especially when they you ask to click a button or link. Phishing is one of the most common ways cyber criminals get computer owners to click on links and download malware.
I mean, look at this e-mail I received recently, supposedly from Apple.
I highlighted the errors on it in red, from the typos to the terrible pixelated Apple logo, but these keep getting sent because they actually work on some people. Always look at these things with a critical eye …
Bitdefender was founded in 1997 and has been publishing online security software aimed at consumers and businesses since 2001. Its products are currently installed on more than half a billion PCs worldwide. This is how the company describes itself and its mission: ”Our job is to win every single time, one thousand times out of one thousand, and one million times out of one million. And we do. We outsmart the industry not only by maintaining the clearest view, the sharpest mind and the deepest insight, but by staying one step ahead of everybody else – be they black hats or fellow security experts.”
In other words, it takes this whole computer security thing pretty seriously.
Bitdefender security software is available for Windows, Mac and mobile, in single and family versions. For most users, a good choice would probably be Bitdefender Total Security Multi device 2017—it protects everything from your PC to your smartphone.
There’s a good chance you may have heard of Kaspersky Lab, even if you don’t use the company’s software. When new malware makes news headlines, it’s often noted that the discovery was first made by Kaspersky Labs—it’s credited with identifying over one million different malware attacks in the 18 years it has been operational. Security software from Kaspersky Lab currently protects over 270,000 businesses and more than 400 million personal PCs.
Kapersky Labs security software is available in various configurations. For the ultimate in family protection, Kaspersky Total Security Geek Squad 2017 provides real-time defence for 10 different devices against everything from phishing to malware, includes online protection for children, securely stores passwords so you don’t need to remember them, and also offers expert Geek Squad setup assistance.
If you’ve ever bought a Windows PC, chances are you know the name McAfee. The company’s security software is offered as a free 30-day trial on many computers. There’s a reason for that (besides the fact that it works): the company got its start in 1987 so it’s trusted, and McAfee has been owned by Intel since 2011. That Intel connection in particular has paid off.
McAfee offers a wide range of security software, even providing antivirus software that will work with Chrome. One of its most all-encompassing products is McAfee LiveSafe 2017. This security software offers protection from malware, viruses and other threats for all your PCs, Macs, tablet and smartphones. It includes a password manager, parental controls and also offers secure cloud storage for sensitive documents, photos and other files.
It’s easy to get so concerned about the never ending waves of malware that you don’t want to touch your computer. Bad as the situation is, remember the criminals are looking for the low-hanging fruit. If you keep your OS upgraded, use common sense and install high quality security software, you can go back to using your computer without worry.