Online security tips

Online security: key tips to avoid malware injection & data leaks

Helga Smith

There are a lot of branches under the term “cybersecurity”1. Computer network security, information security, security of the single computer – all these parts of cybersecurity are very large and essential for understanding if you use the computer for your activities. Online security is an integral part of this enormously actual study often leaves behind the scene. In this article, you will read the key rules of proper usage of web resources, as well as some tricks that can help you to avoid the malware injection. 

It is very strange that the main source of hazard that gave a significant push for cybersecurity as a science is often unspoken. Of course, there is a huge range of worldwide-accepted solutions that act as embedded antiviruses, however, the observant user who knows enough about web security can easily find a large amount of potential security breaches. The majority of these vulnerabilities are based on the human factor. Carelessness, that often goes close to foolishness, and simple lack of basic knowledge about online security – they look like easy-to-counteract, but the statistic reveals other facts.

What is online security?

Usually, this term is used to describe the rules and actions that are used to make sure that the information you interact with and credentials you use in the Internet are not stolen by the cybercriminals. The result may be reached with the solutions that are embedded in the web browsers, as well as with the antivirus tools.

Network security scheme
Network security scheme

In the specific cases, online security term may be used to describe a large pack of the measures that are targeted on minimizing the possibility of information theft, data leaks or malware injection. The difference between first and second definition is in the depth of practices applied for reaching the target: the first term is more descriptional, the second includes practical usage. Besides antiviruses and modern browsers, that were mentioned in the first paragraph, the online security in practice needs much more technical methods as well as human resources.

Looking on the roots of online security

Which hazards are hidden online? Such a question will be hard to answer even in the dissertation. So, let’s categorize the main hazard outlets that must be closed by online security:

Fake websites

Sites that mimic the file sharing resources. Websites of this type are usually used for sharing the content for web-pirates – cracked programs/games, camripped films, or any other data that is supposed to be purchased. Fake file sharing websites are offering to download anything you will type to the search bar, even when the search query looks like “Revenge of stoned eels 2 : Incredible Boogaloo”. Under the link that is offered for downloading this “cartoon” you will find a backdoor, adware or some other unpleasant thing.

Fake file sharing website
Malvertising

Everyone can see the advertisements with the dubious content. “You won the lottery”, “We have a gift for you” or “You are the 100000 visitor of our website, take your prize!” – all of them are also blinking awfully and painted in enormously bright colours. It looks obvious that you will get nothing besides the pack of viruses, but there are still a lot of users who ate this lure.

Malicious advertisements
Phishing websites

Nowadays, this threat is very hard to realize, because of the total implementation of HTTPS technology. Thanks to HTTPS, everyone can check if the website he or she visits has the security certificate. This certificate is likely cannot be obtained by the clones of popular websites. The only way to bypass this defensive mechanism is to infect your PC with a malware that changes your HOSTS file, so even when you try to open the original Twitter, you will be redirected to “tvitter.com”, and the browser will not report you about the absence of HTTPS certificates, because its settings were been modified, too. Of course, all credentials you will type on such a clone will be stolen.

Phishing page that mimic the Facebook
Abandoned websites that were hacked and used to distribute malicious content

There are two subtypes of this threat. First type is a common website, which is hacked and controlled by cybercriminals, so any part of the content located on this website can be malicious. Such pages are getting reported quite quickly, and the majority of anti-malware programs begin to block them in a week or two. The second type of abandoned website is a forum or chat that has no active moderation. Users are free to share any files, so the chance that someone maleficent will post a malicious file under the guise of the app you asked for is very high.

Websites that were reported for the dubious activity

Unlike the hacked pages, ones that were reported for the dubious activity are not hacked. All such activity is done with the allowance (or even direct control) of website maintainers. Some of the web browsers may display you the notification about the suspicious activity on this page, but antivirus software will likely ignore this site.

Doorway websites

Doorways are often used by adware or malvertisiers to redirect the user who clicked on the promotion. Such sites have no content – only links to other websites. About 5-8 years ago users who were employed in search engines optimization used doorways to pump the website they wanted to optimize. Nowadays, Google, as well as all other search engines, are blocking all attempts to move the site higher in a search index via doorways. So, it is easy to make the conclusion that if you see the web page full of links, you likely have malware on your PC.

Doorway websites in the Google search
Doorway websites in the Google search

Most of the issues you see above cannot be fixed only by using the antivirus program or installation of the latest version of the browser you use. It is needed to know the key principles of online security to prevent the well-hidden attempts of attack. As it was mentioned, to provide the complete online security, you need to implement the enormously huge amount of solutions. It will take a lot of pages of text to talk about all possible ways of creating a perfect online security shield, so let’s figure out the main (and the easiest) moments.

Tips for better online security

Always check the website certificate

When you are not sure about the link you followed, check if the website has the HTTPS certificate. This thing can be obtained quite easily, however, counterfeit websites that try to mimic well-known resources, like LinkedIn or Facebook, will surely be denied in the certification.

Certificate and online security
Avoid clicking on the advertisements without the Google Ads/AdChoices label

Both of the mentioned advertisement services (and more others) review the organizations who order the ads, as well as the content which will be displayed after following this ad. Hence, the chance that you will get viruses on your computer is very low. Also, due to the advertising standards, companies are not able to show you the ads that are covering the part of the content on the website, or even covering the full screen.

Do not follow the links that are found on the untrustworthy websites/sent from unknown email addresses.
Only the sender knows what will happen after following the link he sent. It is very risky to open such a link, especially if the sender states that this reference leads to the downloading. The risks are getting even bigger when we have a look at actual statistics2 of the ways of ransomware injection – the biggest share is after the email spam, that contains different links or files that have trojan virus inside. As the result of the activity of this trojan ransomware is injected and launched.

Afterword

Following these simple guides will decrease the chance of getting infected while browsing the web. Of course, making your computer invincible to any type of virus is a much harder task, but closing the main malware source will surely make you less nervous. 

Another trick, that may be useful for prevention of any type of computer hazards is making use of the security tools two times a week allows you to crop the malware activity on the initial stage, minimizing the risk of being infected with something much more serious. Loaris Trojan Remover is an effective tool with an affordable price that will surely deal with all possible viruses you have.

  1. Cybersecurity definition on Wikipedia
  2. Statistics about the ransomware activity through the 2020

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