Common Online Privacy Threats and How You Can Avoid Them
Millions of people spend hours online, browsing the internet from various devices. Whether you’re going online for entertainment, social media, shopping, or even banking, you need to make sure your privacy isn’t getting invaded. With the rapid growth of online privacy threats, you need to be aware of how to avoid having your safety breached.
Simply turning on Incognito mode in your browser is not enough to keep you protected from the threats that lurk on the internet. Sneaky malware and skillful hackers can easily breach your privacy and often attempt to cause devastating consequences for not protecting yourself. By reading our article, you can avoid running into their online traps.
List of common online privacy threats
There are countless threats online that all look to exploit your web browser, computer, or reckless browsing. Below, you can find a list of the most common threats everyday internet users run into and the possible damage they cause.
Learning more about these threats may help you avoid them.
You must’ve noticed the Spam (sometimes called Junk) folder in your email account. This is where incoming messages flagged as unsolicited are sorted to keep them out of your main inbox. They often contain promotions, deals, newsletters, and even phishing scams or malware. It’s generally a good idea not to open any spam message.
Adware is a sub-type of malware. It’s primarily written to display unwanted ads on your computer while you’re connected to the internet. Some types of adware are also able to redirect you to websites, often filled with more advertisements or even dangerous malware. It also collects marketing data about your online behaviors without your consent, which is malicious activity.
There are many different ways you can get adware on your device, which means you always need to be on the lookout. For example, most freeware software will attempt to install adware on your device if you don’t read the installer carefully. However, the adware can infect your computer from malicious downloads or websites as well.
Trojans get their name from the way they get onto your device. This threat usually presents itself as a trustworthy, harmless application that you willingly install on your computer. However, in reality, it makes changes and leaves your computer vulnerable to hackers or other malware to attack. This often happens completely unnoticed by the user, as they don’t suspect that they installed something harmful.
Many of us like to leave the house with our devices to get some fresh air and a change of environment. More often than not, we tend to look for a free to use public Wi-Fi network to connect to, as opposed to using expensive mobile data for browsing when out. However, this is a potential threat.
Many Wi-Fi hotspots aren’t as protected as they should be, allowing anyone with a bit of knowledge to exploit and harm others connected to the network. These hotspots may also be set up by hackers, waiting for unsuspecting victims to connect and get their information stolen. In severe cases, hackers are able to hijack information such as passwords, credit card, and other personal data.
When talking about threats to your device, we can’t forget viruses. This type of malware is more often than not attached to downloads and is designed to spread at a fast rate. People creating viruses often target applications high in demand, then upload fake links on the internet with the malicious code attached.
Although it’s not common anymore, viruses can also spread via CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, and even infected email attachments.
Worms are another type of malware that attempts to infect devices and spread at an alarming rate. They use emails to carry themselves over to a computer, then scan every email address logged into your system and automatically send emails to those people with the same worm attached. To them, the email will look like it’s coming from you and is harmless when in reality it’s spreading the dangerous malware.
Scammers use a technique called phishing to get information or money out of unsuspecting victims. They set up official-looking websites and send emails to a large number of addresses that impersonate a well-known service or website. An example is a “warning” about suspicious activity on your account, followed by a request to change your password using a provided link.
While real websites and providers also send out emails about potential danger on your account, you can usually spot when an email is a phishing attempt if it looks wonky, it comes from a non-official email address, or it appeared in your spam folder.
We recommend never clicking on any links inside phishing emails, not even to test if the email is real. If you’re not certain about the eligibility of an email, consider reaching out to the service via their official support email.
Pharming goes hand-in-hand with phishing, as it is the act of setting up a fake website. These pharming sites look like an exact copy of real service in order to trick users into entering login credentials or banking information. Then, these sites get shared in phishing emails to trick victims.
As the name suggests, spyware essentially spies on the computer of whoever is infected with the malware. You’re vulnerable to the infection by simply browsing the internet, as it can be attached to malicious pop-ups, downloadable files, and even links.
Spyware is very dangerous as it’s able to monitor your activity, keystrokes, read and delete the data on your computer, and in extreme cases even reformat your hard drive. Some advanced spyware are able to do this without you ever noticing until it’s too late.
Keyloggers take one part of the aforementioned spyware, which is the monitoring of keyboard strokes. Once a keylogger gets on your computer, it’ll start to monitor what keys are being pressed on the keyboard and send the information to the creator of the malware. They usually look for distinguishable key entries, such as passwords, banking information, addresses, and other private information.
With the widespread use of cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, users are looking for ways to mine and generate money easier. This is where the malicious crypto miners come into the picture.
If a script like this gets onto your computer, the creator can essentially hijack your device’s resources and use it to mine cryptocurrency that goes into their account, generating money for them. This will significantly slow down your computer and cause it to consume more energy than necessary due to the miner running in the background at all times.
How to avoid online privacy threats
Now that you’ve seen some of the common threats that attempt to breach your privacy online, it’s time to improve your security to avoid them. We’ve compiled a list of useful applications and practices to use when browsing the internet in order to keep your privacy untouched.
Use an antivirus suite
A great antivirus application will be able to completely block all malware and malicious scripts from touching your computer or browser. It’s great practice to purchase a powerful antivirus suite that covers all bases when it comes to privacy on the internet.
Here at GetmsOffice, we offer the best antivirus applications with cutting-edge technology against malware and other online threats.
Turn on your VPN
A VPN isn’t simply used to unlock region-blocked websites and change your online location to a different country. It’s a powerful tool that’s able to protect your privacy even further. With the technology to encrypt and mask information you send to a network, a VPN essentially serves as a roadblock to all network-based threats.
Some VPN providers are known for logging information, and they often sell your private data with consent being part of the user agreement. Therefore, it’s a good idea to choose a suitable VPN if you want complete privacy.
Use private browsing
While turning on the Incognito mode in your browser won’t keep you entirely private, it’ll serve as a great way to stop the collection of data from various sites. If you want to take this a step further, download the Tor browser for free.
Tor protects users against online tracking, surveillance, and censorship by using various techniques to ensure you never visit a malicious or invasive website.
Activate your firewall
If you’re using the Windows operating system, make sure your firewall is enabled and active. This technology blocks network-based attacks from reaching you and causing harm to your device. Here’s how to turn on the firewall on Windows 10:
- Press the Windows key, then search for Windows Defender Firewall and press Enter.
- On the left side of the window, select Turn Windows Defender Firewall on or off.
- In the Customize Settings window, click the circle(s) next to Turn on Windows Defender Firewall for public networks, and private networks.
- Click OK.
Regularly check your security
There are some useful websites that help you determine if you’re truly secure. Going onto these websites and searching yourself up can often lead to revealing crucial security holes in your defenses against online privacy threats. Websites such as BrowserLeaks and Have I Been Pwned? are both able to show you where you went wrong and how you can secure yourself after a privacy breach.
We hope this article helped you learn more about online privacy threats and how you can effectively avoid falling victim to privacy breaches. If you need further assistance regarding this issue, don’t hesitate to reach out to our customer service team here at GetmsOffice. We’re eager to help you stay safe on the internet.
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