Simple safeguards can help prevent a cyber attack

Beautiful smiling blonde woman sitting on couch using wi fi inteCyber attacks are becoming increasingly common. That’s why it’s so important to keep your computer system safe and secure. The good news? Studies show that nearly 90 percent of all cyber attacks can be easily prevented with some simple safeguards.

Malware is one of the biggest threats. That’s malicious software designed to gain access to a network, find sensitive data and steal that data. There are various types of malware, including spyware, viruses, worms, and any type of malicious code that infiltrates a computer. Once malware is installed, it can allow hackers to extract private and sensitive data whenever they wish.

To hep prevent malware, don’t click on links or open attachments in e-mails that you aren’t 100% sure are legitimate. This is one of the most common ways hackers gain access to computer systems. Generally be wary of e-mails containing attachments. If you are suspicious of what you are being asked to view or install, don’t do it. Also, know that flash drives can unknowingly contain malicious code.

Long and strong passwords with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols are important, too. Set a specific timeline — such as every three months — for changing your passwords. Security measures also are important. Install anti-virus/malware software, firewalls and anti-ransomware, keep it up to date and run regular scans. Don’t let updates to your operating system, browsers and plugins pile up. Updates often address security vulnerabilities that have been discovered, so it’s important those are completed in a timely manner.

Lastly, be cautious about using public wi-fi to access accounts containing private or sensitive data. If you use an unsecured network to log into an account, someone else may be able to see what you see and what you send. That person could then log in as you. If you regularly access online accounts through public wi-fi, you may want to use a virtual private network, or VPN. VPNs encrypt traffic between your computer and the Internet, making it much more difficult for someone to hack into your accounts.