Updated: Apr 30, 2020
The Internet has seen an influx of traffic ever since the globe placed lockdowns to curb the spreading of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to the Internet becoming the virtual platform to continue work, education and as a source of entertainment.
Hence, it is important to ensure safety and security is not compromised as vulnerable networks pose serious risks to users. Let’s look at 5 tips that can keep you safe from cyber attacks.
1. Go through the source of the file
Picture source: www.scalarenterprises.co.uk
It is always important to check and get some information about the source/developer of the file you’re trying to download. One of the easiest ways to do so is to check the website’s SSL certificate.
Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) provides a secure channel between two machines or devices operating over the Internet or an internal network. If the website contains SSL, its URL will be shown as HTTPS instead of HTTP, the “S” meaning “secure”. A “lock” symbol will also be shown at the left side of the URL bar, denoting that the website is secure.
2. Read reviews of the file
Almost all developers display reviews for the software available for download. Pay attention to what other people say and take some time to go through the reviews to get some personal experience of other users of the file, despite being developed by an established company. Reading the reviews can also provide more information such as compatibility issues, existing bugs and glitches, and security flaws experienced by actual users around the world.
3. Take note of the permissions required by the files
Picture source: forums.oneplus.com
Before downloading any file, software or application, particularly on mobile platforms such as Android and iOS, take a detailed look at the file’s advertised features and compare those features to the permissions the file asks for.
For example, it may be suspicious for games to have access to the contacts list and messages, or to send text messages to random numbers or being allowed to delete files from the device. If such are the permissions required, you are better off not downloading it.
4. Be careful when downloading “executable files”
An executable file enables a computer to perform indicated tasks according to encoded instructions in the file. Examples of such files are denoted through their formats such as “.exe”, “.bat” and “.scr”, which can be seen at the end of their file names.
Downloading executable files is a risky business as your computer becomes vulnerable to attacks if the file is harmful. Hence, to be safe, scanning the file with a anti-virus or any other similar software. One common trick used by hackers is to have a “double extension” such as “.gif.exe”, where the said file is actually an “.exe”, not a “.gif”.
5. Use an anti-virus software
An anti-virus software acts as the last line of defence for your devices. It is important to run scheduled scans to keep your devices up to date and free from any sort of viruses. Scans can also be performed on a specific file, so it is advisable to do so on any newly downloaded file, even after you’ve considered the 4 steps above to be entirely sure that the files are free from viruses.
Remember to always stay sharp and download files only from trustable sources to ensure the safety and security of your device remains uncompromised. Plenty of personal details such as credit card information, confidential documents and passwords can be accessed by hackers once they have breached your device’s safety systems. When it come to this kind of cases, prevention is always better than cure.