G estolen log-in data, unknown orders via the online shopping account, viruses as mail attachments. Without a lot of scaremongering – there are a number of dangers lurking on the Internet for users and computers. Often users are not even aware of this, a lot also gets stuck in spam filters, the firewall and other automatic protection measures. But the safest way is to build up a good basic protection.
"Everyone can minimize the risk of catching viruses or malware," says Sebastian Barchnicki of the Institute for Internet Security. A few simple steps are enough for Windows and Mac. Mac? Yes, even silver computers are no longer untouchable. Their increasing prevalence also makes them attractive to criminals. Additional protection does not hurt. The first and perhaps most important measure against malicious software is to keep your system and its programs up to date.
Outdated software is the biggest gateway for attacks. Especially old operating systems like Windows XP are an invitation for hackers. Every code has gaps and bugs, which manufacturers fix and plug over time to prevent them from being exploited. Updates are therefore extremely important. If you don’t execute it, you leave the digital door wide open.
Pay attention to updates for security gaps
The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) in Bonn advises setting up a separate user account for Internet access without administrator rights on the computer. This way, an attacker will not get full access in case the computer is infected. The second way to keep viruses out in the first place is to use a decent router with up-to-date firmware. Again, users should pay attention to updates for security vulnerabilities that can occur repeatedly.
But how do you know if your router is secure?? Fabian Scherschel from Heise Security advises testing on the net. Security experts offer a check, developed with the Lower Saxony State Data Protection Commissioner, to see if a digital door is open somewhere. A decent firewall also helps to prevent uninvited data from entering the computer in the first place and to close all open entry gates. The provided solutions of Windows and OS-X should therefore always be activated. Even if a program asks for it, you should not switch it off.
Numerous security vulnerabilities with Flash
A modern browser such as Firefox or Chrome helps with secure surfing on the net. The browser extension "https Everywhere" ensures that whenever possible an encrypted connection to a website is established. Spying is made more difficult. Ad blockers also protect. Not only because they reduce the number of flashing banners on the screen, but they can also protect against unnoticed infection of the computer.
Behind some animated advertising banners there may also be malicious software. The exploits loopholes in the Flash plug-in, a sensitive topic for Barchnicki: "Flash repeatedly shows numerous security holes that are inadequately plugged by the manufacturer," he says and advises that it is better to turn off the browser’s Flash plug-in.
If the computer is secured in this way, you still need an antivirus program to complete the basic protection. Virus protection is available as free and paid versions from numerous manufacturers. Basically, both do their job. Sebastian Barchnicki, however, advises to use the paid variants. They usually master some scanning and analysis functions better than their free versions – after all, the providers also want to earn money.
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In the case of the free versions, attempts are often made to foist additional software on users, such as toolbars or adware, which in turn can be a security risk. That’s why you have to pay attention to already set additional options during installation. With these tips, your own computer is already more secure.
But the threat situation is constantly changing. That’s why it’s always worth keeping up to date with the latest research. A newsletter from the BSI, for example, which warns of current dangers and provides tips for self-protection, can help in this regard. It can be ordered via the BSI website. So despite all the digital dangers, every user can do something to help keep themselves safe. The important thing is to take the first step.