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In the world today, security in the cyber realm is just as important as in the physical domain, if not more.

Most of us lead an active online life, socializing with friends, building and connecting with communities, sharing our interests and hobbies, and debating ideas. Over time our virtual and real lives have meshed together like never before. We’re not only working and studying online, which means exposing ourselves on the Internet for hours on end but money is involved too. We’re shopping online, carrying out banking transactions, and often managing our investment portfolios over the internet. This puts our sensitive information in a precarious position and with that online, you can’t throw caution to the wind.

To be fair, it’s not just our internet usage pattern that has evolved, but the way technology now operates, which raises security concerns. Cloud computing means your data is perpetually available on the web. Using various apps implies we must give permission to companies, and by extension people, to access data on our phones, including our personal information. Any security breach at their end can immensely impact our well-being and put us in a tough spot. In such a scenario then, it is essential we familiarize ourselves with the tech ecosystem and how data can be compromised, so we are better able to take the right steps to prevent a security mishap.

If you’re new to this journey and unaware of where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Here we’ll explore different internet security types, and touch upon the essentials to help you understand how to walk the cyber world safely.

Major Internet Security Threats & Solutions

The advanced technology we have all around us today may be overwhelming, but you don’t need to know the intricate details to protect yourself from cyber threats. A basic understanding of major online dangers will help you prevent harmful instances.   

To start off, it’s important you know that network security comprises three components: hardware, software, and cloud services. An attack may be carried against any or all to extract information from your system. Read on to know about each, and what you can do to protect yourself.

Hardware

Hardware is perhaps the most difficult component to crack since an attack on it would require extensive knowledge of it, unlike a software attack, as well as physical contact of sorts.

One of the ways hardware can get compromised is therefore during production. For instance, in 2020, an anti-fraud firm, Upstream, found 53,000 Tecno handsets sold in select African countries, carried a malicious code, which could find subscription services and submit fraudulent requests without the knowledge of users. The manufacturer, Transsion, however, argued the malware was installed unbeknownst to it in the supply chain. To be fair, that is plausible. However, whether or not the manufacturer purposely embedded backdoors into the product is worth investigating, especially in an environment writhing with worldwide trade wars and propaganda.

Then again, such attacks can occur accidentally as well, by doing something as simple as connecting a compromised USB to a PC. For instance, the USB Killer 2.0 which looked like any other stick on the market, could lead to permanent damage of hardware by delivering an electric surge via the USB port.

How to Protect Hardware?

So, what does this mean for you? Well, these instances inform us even a new product in a seemingly untampered packed box cannot be trusted. To ensure it is safe and secure, here’s what you can do:

  • Encrypt data:

There are various tools on the market that you can use like VeraCrypt and BitLocker. These popular tools can be used for full-disk encryption. For your mobile devices, there are separate tools available. This way even if your device gets compromised, your data should remain safe.

  • Keep track of payments from your digital accounts:

Most of us look into our expense reports every few months. Some only once or twice a year. If you’re conducting online transactions, however, make sure to look at payments made every week at the very least. This will help you find irregularities and secure your hard-earned money.

  • Remove pre-installed unnecessary applications:

Many manufacturers ship phones pre-installed with seemingly harmless gaming apps. But quite often, they are produced by shady companies which make money by selling your personal data. To ensure they don’t sell yours, either limit the permissions given to the apps or delete them altogether.

  • Never bypass security checks:

When in a time crunch one may be inclined to bypass security scans on a device, but we forget these checks are there for a reason. So, no matter what the urgency doesn’t skip on the security checks.

  • Make use of passwords:

Putting a lock on your phone, computer and routers ensures the safety of your system, so do not underestimate its power and employ usernames and passwords. For those looking for an additional layer of security on the in-home WiFi network, it is good to know the xFi Gateway, which Xfinity Internet subscribers get, comes with Advanced Security free of charge. It’s a smart and personalized solution for computers, smartphones, smart security devices, and other devices connected to the network.

  • Keep up with the news:

Scandals and schemes make breaking news. If you stay up to date with current affairs, you should be better able to keep yourself safe.

  • You may also want to refrain from using public computers.

Before we move on to software security, bear in mind devices like Alexa and Google Assistant are tricky items to keep at home. For instance, research suggests an Alexa speaker like Echo or Dot is “always-on”, recording and storing. While the jury is still out on whether it’s safe to keep such “assistants”, it’d be only prudent to give this a thought.

Software

The chunk of metal that is your PC or mobile phone, is nothing without the software running it. The simplest of functions need a code for execution, and this is the window of opportunity towards which some of the worst attacks are targeted.

Viruses are all too common and with time getting more and more advanced. When talking of malicious software/malware, there is a variety of viruses that comes to mind. Some of the popular ones include Trojan horse programs, which disguise themselves as something else and infiltrate your system. Ransomware, which blocks key functions of your device, until a ransom is paid. And spyware, which as the same suggests, spies on you and monitors your activities illegally.

In times past, anti-virus software could scan and save you from most of them. Sure you had to keep the software updated, but it was still quite a straightforward process. Nowadays, however, thanks to AI, malware has become smarter and can adapt to your defenses rendering it all ineffective.

How to Protect Software?

When it comes to really advanced viruses, there is little you can do as a layman. Luckily, however, the common hacker doesn’t have access to these either so you need not worry about those for the most part. To counteract the viruses that do come your way though, here’s what you can do:

  • Update your software:

Software updates carry updated security patches without which your system is acutely vulnerable.

  • Be wary of suspicious links:

Sharing links is the norm these days. But that doesn’t mean you should click on each one that comes your way, especially if you don’t know or trust the sender or source. Being a little mindful goes a long way in keeping you safe over the internet.

  • Use antivirus, anti-spyware, anti-malware programs:

Tools like these can detect an incoming threat and secure your system from a potential attack. That is why services like AT&T Internet and Spectrum Internet offer effective online security free of cost with their broadband offerings, and you can rest assured you’re in good hands. When you install an antivirus, do make sure to update it from time to time.

  • Install a behavior detecting tool:

If any suspicious activity that you don’t allow on your devices normally, takes place in the background, behavior-based protection tools are able to detect it, and help you put a stop to it.

  • Use a pop-up blocker while browsing:

The annoying ads that pop-ups can be highly insidious. They may contain malware or unsafe code, so do yourself a favor and block these entirely.

  • Clear cache and internet history:

The browser stores information like names and addresses as well as the sites you’ve visited, which is honestly more information than anyone needs to know. So clear cache and history from time to time.

  • Avoid Cracked Software:

You can get free software illegally over the web, but it may just end up costing you more by allowing bugs and viruses in.

  • Use VPN protection when using public Wi-Fi.

Cloud Services

With cloud computing services you have access to important files wherever you go. But, when you store files on the service provider’s server(s), it essentially makes data more vulnerable than if it were stored on a personal device. We’ve seen time and time again how threats are realized, and data compromised.

For example, in 2019 a technical glitch with Google Photos caused people’s photos to be stored in strangers’ archives. Even the all elusive Apple has had its share of issues with iCloud security. The likes of Dropbox and Yahoo too are not immune to the threat. So, how can you stay secure? Well, good habits can go a long way in ensuring you’re safe online.

How to Keep Cloud Data Safe?

For an incident-free cloud storage experience, here’s what you should be doing:

Final Words

This information can help you get started on practicing safety measures while using the internet. There’s no shortcut to internet security, it’s all about developing good habits, and picking an internet service that allows you access to effective online security tools.

So, when you’re on the lookout for “internet service in my area”, check Cox Internet service availability. The Cox Security Suite Plus not only offers virus and spyware protection but features like Firewall, Spam Protection, Digital Data Shredder, WebAdvisor, Remote Locate, Lock and Wipe Device, CaptureCam, and more. The WOW! Internet service also gives you access to internet security that includes antivirus, firewall, web-filtering, and spyware protection, as well as spam blockers. CenturyLink Internet is yet another such service. Advanced security comes embedded in most CenturyLink leased modems, and keeps all connected devices safe and secure.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Which internet providers offer the best cyber security tools?

Mediacom, Cox, AT&T, WOW!, Spectrum, CenturyLink, and Xfinity internet services offer online security tools either included in the plan price or as an add-on.

Does Spectrum Internet offer anti-virus?

Yes. All Spectrum Internet plans come with free antivirus software which is effective at keeping your device(s) protected.

Which provider offers the most secure WiFi?

If you get the advanced xFi Gateway with a subscription to Xfinity Internet you can experience a perfectly secure in-home WiFi network.