As a laptop owner, you should be quite concerned about potential cybersecurity threats. Sometimes, these attacks happen when you least expect them, and failing to take the necessary precautions can lead to significant problems.
For one, malware is malicious and it will hurt the laptop’s performance after infecting the device. There are also some instances when a computer virus exposes personal information or even deletes data.
Then there are less detrimental but annoying obstacles, such as consumption of free drive space and random pop-ups or notifications.
If you want to avoid that, you should develop a proper cybersecurity strategy and stick to it as you would to your usual routine. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective methods to help you.
1. Use a Virtual Private Network
The internet at your home should be pretty safe so long as you have a good internet service provider. However, you should not expect to get the necessary security features when connecting to public Wi-Fi.
No, using the internet in hotels, bars, libraries, and other public establishments comes with a price. Even if the network requires a password to connect, it is still likely missing security protocols. Connecting to public Wi-Fi without the necessary protection exposes you to potential hacker attacks.
A virtual private network is a go-to option when you need to use public Wi-Fi. Thanks to the features of encrypted data, hiding your IP address, and changing a location, an attacker will have a difficult time accessing your device.
VPNs cost a few dollars per month and are a good investment for those who use a laptop with public Wi-Fi. In case you are tempted to try a free virtual private network, do not because those are not secure and defeat the purpose of using virtual private networks.
2. Make Sure to Install Reliable Antivirus Software
It is no secret that many people consider antivirus software the foundation of a good cybersecurity strategy. Yours should be no exception. Even if you are not using a laptop at the time but have it turned on, there should still be antivirus software running in the background.
The odds for an idle computer to attract malware are relatively low, but they are not zero. A tool that scans the system and eliminates detected is great to have, and you can find antivirus software that is free but still does its job if you cannot afford a paid version.
3. Stick to Different Passwords
Creating online profiles requires strong passwords. You might be reluctant to use different passwords for different accounts because it is a bother to memorize different combinations. Many people use the same password for every online account, but they do not consider the consequences.
If one of the services you use leaks your password, the details for other profiles will become available as well. Of course, ideally, you do not want to use an online service that leaks your details, but it is impossible to predict when something like that could happen.
As a rule of thumb, you should create different passwords for different accounts, particularly for those you consider important, like work emails, social media, or bank accounts.
4. Install System Updates
Operating system updates are not that frequent, but it is still recommended to install them as soon as these updates become available. Sure, most computer users probably associate OS updates with performance upgrades and new features, but they also improve security.
Developers react to prominent cybersecurity threats and release new and improved operating system versions that protect users. Thus, it makes sense to always have the latest OS for your laptop.
5. Create Data Backups
Data backups are not a direct way to stop malware. However, it is still a necessary step to create some peace of mind. Having a safety net in the form of a data backup will allow you to rest easy because you will know that there is a copy of your files.
Now, as for what you can use to back up data, there are usually two options that people go with. The first is cloud storage. Thanks to services like iCloud and Dropbox, backing up files is as simple as transferring them to your account. In addition, you can access the data on another device so long as it is synced with your cloud account.
If you do not wish to use cloud storage, there is the external device option. HDDs and USB flash sticks are relatively cheap and should be more than enough to create a copy of laptop files.
6. Avoid Suspicious Messages
Suspicious messages that you receive via email, social media, a communication platform, and so on, should be ignored.
For example, you might get an email that has an attachment. It might even be from someone you know. But there is no need to follow instructions and download a file just because someone tells you to, especially if the whole thing is suspicious.
You can just straight up delete email attachments when you are not expecting any. After all, there is really no need to risk clicking on them and potentially infect your laptop or an internet browser.
7. Install an Ad Blocker Extension
Some internet websites stick to an aggressive ad policy because they want to monetize their content as much as they can. Unfortunately, these ads can also redirect visitors to malware-infected landing pages.
If you want to avoid this, install an ad blocker on your internet browser that has the extension feature. There should be one or two ad-blocker extensions available.
8. Keep Up With Cybersecurity News
The last piece of advice is quite simple—you need to follow some of the latest cybersecurity trends and news so that you know what is happening. Knowing in advance is a great way to prevent a potential virus from infecting your laptop because you will know what to expect and how to counter a threat if it actually shows up.
There is no need to read multiple articles or watch a few videos every day. Instead, take some of your time now and then to check what is the latest in the cybersecurity industry.