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Posted on: January 5, 2016 at 1:40 PM
Categorized in: Consumer Education, Security

Make Sure Internet Eavesdroppers Can't Hack It-Part 3

The need to use the web safely and securely is nothing new, but malware changes all the time. How can you keep yourself safe from the malware trap?

For as many devices and types of computers as there are in use today, there are even more ways that hackers are trying to invade your cyber space —and they change as often as the tides. But, no matter what the latest threat is, practicing good web habits can significantly reduce the risk of having your device, and your personal information, compromised.

What is malware?

Malware is any type of sneaky software that infects your computer or mobile device, and performs actions or transmits information without your knowledge. These can include viruses, adware, spyware and browser hijacking software, all of which can be used to destroy or corrupt your files, steal your personal information, or continually display unwanted pop-up advertisements.

What can I do about it?

Malware creators are pros at getting you to think that you need to perform an action to make your computer work properly, update your app, or something similar. The bottom line is that if something looks questionable, it probably is. But, the good news is that there are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Be wary of social engineering-based attacks.

Some malware prompts the end-user for personal information, which a trusted source like MIDFLORIDA probably already has, and would never request using that channel of communication.

This is especially true of your mobile phone number…if you receive a prompt to enter the phone number of your mobile device while downloading an app, do not provide it. If you accidentally do so and receive a text message with a link, do not click on it or follow the prompts.

Minimize your chances of becoming a victim.

  • Know your app sources. Any updates to your apps should be done using the official store for your type of device, such as Google Play for Android, the App Store for Apple, or the Windows Store for Windows devices.
  • Click cautiously. If you click a link that takes you to a screen that lets you download an app, make sure that the link has actually taken you to the official store for your device. Any app that is downloaded from a site other than these stores is a clear indicator that the app is not authentic. Likewise, do not click on emails from unfamiliar people, or on links that are texted to you from an unknown source.
  • Keep your anti-virus/anti-malware software up to date.
  • Surf safely. Do not access your banking or other types of secure sites using public/free Wi-Fi. Learn more.

As you’re aware, MIDFLORIDA will never ask you to provide your personal information, such as your phone number, or take you to an unofficial third party site to download an app. If you do find that the security of your account has been compromised, please be sure to report it to MIDFLORIDA right away.

Source: https://ist.mit.edu/security/malware, with contributions from Bobby Hiers, MIDFLORIDA’s Network Security Engineer.