Using Windows in 2021: A Brief Guide to Risks and Security
Windows may be the most popular operating system out there, but it’s not the most secure—not by a longshot. And that’s not a dig at Windows; no OS is entirely secure. And it’s good to be aware of the threats that your OS—including Windows—faces on a daily basis.
Threats Facing Windows
Phishing scams target all age groups, from children borrowing their mom’s phone to an 80-year old who knows little about modern technology trends. The worst part? Phishing scams are successful.
Many people still fall for phishing scams: buying iTunes gift cards for an “FBI” caller, giving remote access to the laptop to the caller from “Microsoft,” etc. Windows users beware of any potential scams.
Websites are just as vulnerable to getting hacked as the typical Windows user. After all, websites rely on security software and knowledgeable, vigilant IT teams. When a website fails to have both on board, it can get hijacked by cybercriminals.
What happens after a website hijacking? Data collected by the website could be leaked, including account data and passwords. Cybercriminals could also plant malware—such as crypto miners—in the website’s code, infecting visitors. Hijacked websites are a real threat, and hijackings are quickly becoming a common trend.
How to Stay Safe While Using Windows
1. Create a Restore Point
If you ever become the victim of a cyberattack, there’s a decent chance your data gets corrupted in the attack. It’s happened plenty of times, and companies have lost data because of poorly-timed attacks on critical infrastructure.
Save yourself the headache of losing all your data and plan ahead—create a restore point. A restore point acts as a “copy” of Windows. If something happens that corrupts critical system files or a virus worms into the OS registry, you can restore Windows to that point in time. Hence the term “restore point.”
2. Install Security Software
No Windows computer is complete until its user downloads their own personal security suite on it. But what security software should Windows users focus on? Start with these two: anti-virus software and a VPN.
Anti-virus software is useful for stopping any potential viruses (or malware) that make their way onto your device. Windows even comes with a good, if not basic, anti-virus program: Windows Defender.
Users should also install a VPN. VPNs, more commonly known as Virtual Private Networks, encrypt the device they are installed on and make it difficult for cybercriminals to steal its data.
3. Use Privacy-Oriented Browsers
Google Chrome is no doubt the most popular browser today, having a market share of 63%. The second most popular, Safari, trails far behind at 19%. Why do so many people use Chrome? Is it the well-done integration of Google’s other services in Chrome? The speed at which the browser runs? It’s all of the above. There’s plenty of reasons to use Chrome. Unfortunately, however, security is not one of them.
Chrome might excel in all other areas, but it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to cybersecurity. Giving up Chrome will be difficult, but if you care about your security, it’s recommended that you use a browser built from the ground up to be secure, like DuckDuckGo or Brave.
Many hold Windows to a high standard. So high a standard that the same people often forget how vulnerable Windows is to cyberattacks. With these tips, however, you’ll be able to keep your Windows PC safe from any threats.