The growth of the internet brings many advantages, but it also opens the door for more threats. The internet is a continually evolving landscape, and computer security threats evolve with it. If you want to stay safe, you have to know what you’re up against.

Cybercrime is the fastest-growing criminal activity in America, so you’ll want to be sure you protect yourself against it. The first step in protection is to know what threats you might face. If you know what to look out for, you’ll be able to spot weak points in your security. 

Here are five computer security threats and solutions to help you stay safe.

1. Malware

Malware is one of the most common threats to computer security. Short for “malicious software,” malware is any unwanted application that harms your computer, your network, or your data. It can be as trivial as slowing down your computer’s performance or as severe as stealing financial data.

Thankfully, there are plenty of reliable antivirus programs you can use that will help scan for and remove malware threats. Make sure your antivirus is reputable and that you update it often. To help avoid installing malware, never interact with suspicious websites or emails.

2. Phishing

Phishing is when someone tries to fool you into giving away sensitive data such as bank information on the internet. Cybercriminals do this through any number of means, from posing as someone else in an email to creating a near-identical copy of a trusted website. With technological advances like machine learning, phishers are becoming more threatening than ever.

To avoid becoming a phishing victim, never give any information away without verifying the source first. You should also only perform online transactions with encrypted services. 

3. IoT Vulnerability

The Internet of Things (IoT) can make many parts of your life easier, but it may also put you at risk. More internet-connected appliances mean more of your data may be vulnerable. Hackers can use a seemingly unimportant IoT device as a gateway into the rest of your network, gaining access to sensitive information through unexpected places.

As this threat grows, so do its solutions. You can install protection software to encrypt all of your devices’ connections. Making sure your router is as secure as possible will also limit the vulnerability of your IoT devices.

4. Formjacking

Formjacking is on the rise, with more than 4,000 websites compromised by formjacking each month in 2018. This kind of cybercrime involves stealing information from forms such as checkout pages on trusted sites. Think of it as the digital equivalent of credit card skimmers.

Most of the responsibility in protecting against formjackers lies with website owners. If you run a website, you should routinely scan it, looking for suspicious or unexpected code. You can also run penetration testing to point out any potential weaknesses.

5. Uninformed Users

Perhaps the biggest threat to cybersecurity is simply a lack of education. People who don’t know good internet practices are the most vulnerable to cyberattack. If you don’t know about the risks facing you on the internet, how can you hope to avoid them?

The answer to this one is simple. Stay up-to-date on cybersecurity. Learn what to do and what not to do when online. You can avoid a whole host of security issues just by being careful.

Preventing Cybersecurity Issues

Like with your health, prevention is better than a cure when it comes to cybersecurity. The most important thing you can do in prevention is keeping up with developments in cybercrime and safety. Look for threats in your current internet usage and deal with them before they become a problem.

If you run a business, you should regularly check employee internet behavior and ensure they’re well-trained. No matter what your situation is, you should make sure you don’t hand out sensitive data freely. Confirm sites’ credibility before engaging with them, and use measures like two-factor authentication and encryption.

You may not be an expert in computer safety, but you can turn to people who are. On top of using programs like antivirus, VPNs or encryption software, you can get security companies to help you run tests to see where you’re vulnerable. 

If you stay updated and follow basic internet safety rules, you should have no reason to worry. Cybercriminals may be getting more advanced, but so are the tools used to fight them.

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