This post was authored by one of the most active helpers on the Malwarebytes forums who wishes to remain anonymous.
Back in the early days of personal computing, perhaps one of the only real concerns was data loss from a drive failure. That risk still exists, but we all face many other threats today too.
There are rootkits, Trojans, worms, viruses, ransomware, phishing, identity theft, and social engineering to worry about. And that’s not a comprehensive list.
So how can you avoid becoming a victim?
- Keep your operating system and apps up to date. Install device, operating system, and software security updates as soon as they become available.
- Use a strong, unique password for each login you use. Use a password manager to create and remember passwords if you can. If you aren’t using a password manager, use long passphrases that cannot be found in a dictionary.
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to help protect your accounts wherever it’s offered.
- Pay close attention to installation screens and license agreements when installing software. Custom or advanced installation options will often disclose any third party software that is also being installed. Take great care in every stage of the process and make sure you know what it is you’re agreeing to before you click “Next.”
- Avoid using Peer-to-Peer (P2P) file-sharing programs. Likewise, avoid keygens, cracks, and other pirated software that can often compromise your data, privacy, or both.
- Use a browser-based content blocker, like Browser Guard. Content blockers help reduce ads, Trojans, phishing, and other undesirable content that an antivirus product alone may not stop.
- Slow down and think before clicking on things or reacting to unexpected messages.
- Be alert for people trying to trick you. Whether it’s your email, phone, messenger, or other applications, always be alert and on guard for someone trying to trick you into clicking on links or replying to messages. Remember that it’s easy to spoof phone numbers, so a familiar name or number doesn’t make messages more trustworthy.
- Never open unexpected attachments and be cautious about attachments from friends and family.
- Back up your data frequently and check that your backup data can be restored. Backup to an external device and disconnect it when the backup is complete. Never connect the backup drive to a computer if you suspect that the computer is infected with malware.
- Use privacy-first software. If you are concerned about surveillance or censorship, use privacy-first software like the Tails operating system, Tor browser, and Signal messenger.
Support forums such as Malwarebytes Forums and a few others have members or staff that are highly trained and can assist you further if you have specific questions or issues about your devices or security, or would like more details on any particular information shared in this article.
The war in Ukraine may change the risks that some or all of us face online. To read more about what may change, read our article on the potential cybersecurity impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
URL links with further information or access to the programs mentioned:
Malwarebytes Support Forum
Tips to help protect from infection
Privacy – protecting your digital footprint
Do I need a Windows Registry Cleaner?
Backup your data
Malwarebytes Browser Guard
NoScript Security Suite
Web Browser recommendations
Delete cookies automatically | Cookie AutoDelete plugin
Browser push notifications: a feature asking to be abused