Windows is the most popular pc operating system in the world. According to StatCounter Global Stats, a web analytics firm, this OS takes up nearly 98.64% of the desktop market share. Of this, the report shows that Windows 10 takes the lion’s share, racking up 73.34%.
Being such a huge success in the market, Microsoft is doing all it can to protect its devices and users from their biggest enemy, cyber threats.
Since the era of Windows XP and Vista, Window’s biggest challenge has been security. Most users don’t understand how to secure their Windows devices, and more often than not, they end up victims of cyber-attacks. They fail to realize that securing your device is more complex than configuring a few settings and purchasing an antivirus.
But to understand how important it is to secure your windows device, you first need to know what threats your device faces every day.
5 Major Cyber Risks facing Windows users in 2020
Cyber threats occur in many different ways. With hackers and other cybercriminals getting smatter by the day, it has become hard for anyone – even your antivirus – to spot these attacks. Here are five major cyber risks targeting windows devices in 2020:
1. Advanced Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware has been in the market for a long time, and they don’t seem to be going anywhere in 2020. Ranked as the biggest threat to businesses and organizations, hackers have spawned new ways to infect databases and user data.
Although ransomware is more common among businesses, individual users are not safe either. It’s estimated that nearly 4000 ransomware attacks occur each day. Ransomware infects your files and data and encrypts them, forcing you to pay a ransom to access them. Failure to pay can result in a permanent wipe of your data.
2. Phishing Attacks
Phishing is one of the most common attacks that windows users face. And while experts recommend solutions for this attack, there’s still a huge security gap with phishing attacks. By definition, phishing refers to online scams, mainly in the form of emails and ads, that mimic the appearance of credible sites but are malicious in nature.
These attacks aim to collect your website logins, passwords, and credit card information, among other personal details. You can read more about it here.
Like Ransomware, your windows device is always at risk of malware. These are pieces of infectious codes, designed to exploit the vulnerability of your device to steal information. Malware comes in different forms, from worms to trojan horses, to spyware, to adware.
The worst thing about this is that some malware, like a trojan horse, can stay in your system for months, collecting your data without you noticing. They also open a back door for the attackers to access your device.
4. Weaponized AI Attacks
The development and success of Artificial intelligence is one big leap for the IT industry. AI is a powerful tool in identifying and predicting viruses and malware before they even hit your network. However, they pose a similar challenge when weaponized.
With hackers adopting the latest technologies to modify their viruses, your traditional anti-virus stands no chance against these attacks. AI viruses and malware could easily bypass your firewalls and collect sensitive data from your devices. The more AI technology advances, the greater this risk becomes.
5. IoT Attacks
The Internet of Things promises a brighter future for the world. But it’s still miles from delivering this dream, with the technology still susceptible to an array of attacks. As most people slowly embrace the interconnected ‘smart’ devices at home, hackers can take advantage of the underdeveloped security features to attack your windows device.
IoT attacks occur quite easily because many of the devices connected to the same network don’t have good security. Therefore, the attacker uses one device to infect your network with malware, then distributes it.
These are a few of the many threats that your windows device is exposed to any time you’re using it.
While some anti-viruses can help thwart some of these attacks, in most cases, an antivirus isn’t enough. You need to invest in better security tools for your device.
Which are the Best Security tools to Protect your device?
There being hundreds of security tools in the market, choosing one that’s effective against cyberattacks can be difficult. Here are some of the top tools we recommend to protect your windows device.
1. Windows Defender
One of the best features of windows 10, is the free in-built anti-virus software, Windows Defender. Built and designed for Windows devices, this software can arguably complete all the tasks that most free anti-viruses do. It’s, therefore, a must-have for any windows device.
According to Microsoft, the Defender provides real-time protection for your device against viruses, spyware, and malware. Some people argue that it’s enough for your device security, – which is partially true. For better security, always ensure that your Windows firewall is on, even when using the Defender.
2. Malware Remover
In addition to your Windows Defender, you need good anti-malware software to eliminate stubborn malware. Malware removers work just like antiviruses, but they are objectively designed to deal with malware.
They can detect and get rid of viruses, malware, and ransomware in their early stages. A good malware remover also provides real-time protection for your device, ensuring that it’s malware-free.
3. An effective Anti-virus
It goes without saying that you also need a good antivirus – besides the Windows Defender. An antivirus offers powerful security features that are key in combating viruses. This includes services like advanced malware detection and removal, email protection, deep scanning, and system monitoring. However, all antiviruses work differently, and so, their services differ slightly.
Most antivirus providers offer both the free and premium package. You can check our list of Best Antivirus with both free and paid package. While both are good, free packages mostly scan and remove malware, but they can’t prevent them, which is what you want in an antivirus. Generally, premium packages offer better security.
Pro tip: Ensure that the antivirus is compatible with your Windows device.
4. A high-quality VPN
When it comes to internet security, VPNs are valuable tools that are key to your privacy and security. A high-quality VPN provides online privacy and encryption for your data traffic whenever you are connected. They secure your connections, even when using public networks, ensuring that your data is safe. With a good VPN, you’ll also avoid data leaks, and maintain a private IP address to prevent online tracking.
5. An Ad-blocker
Most hackers have discovered that ads are among the easiest and fastest ways to spread malicious files. By simply clicking on a malicious ad, your windows device becomes corrupted. Besides, ads are often annoying on any webpage.
As such, you need to get an effective ad-blocker that blocks all ads from malicious sources. They are among the best extensions on most browsers. Some antivirus providers also offer adblocking features on their packages. But if cost is a factor, browser adblockers are free and very effective for windows devices.
6. Bit locker or Device Encryption
In the event that your windows device falls on the wrong hands, the Bit locker feature is your best bet for security. This encryption feature is in-built in most windows computers, dating back to Windows Vista. It uses a military-grade AES 256-bit encryption to encrypt entire disk volumes.
This tool is so effective that it secures your content even when the hard disk is stolen. It’s also a great tool to prevent internal attacks for businesses and organizations.
7. Secure Password Manager
The strength of your windows device is as good as your passwords. You, therefore, need a strong password – and a good password manager to go with it. Password managers enable you to generate very secure passwords, that may take years to hack.
When choosing a password manager, look for tools with two-factor authentication features. This way, you can be confident that you’ll have an alert whenever anyone tries to access your vault. Windows 10’s Hello can work with this.
8. Secure Browser and/or a Sandbox
Your browser’s security features directly affect the security of your Windows device. While all windows products come with the new Microsoft edge, it’s still miles away, from a security standpoint, from reaching the heights of other successful browsers. As such, it may not be the best browser for someone looking for the best security.
The Sandbox feature on newer Windows devices can also be a good alternative when looking to get rid of the malware. The sandbox dissociates the browser from your system files, ensuring you browse risk-free!
9. Windows Update Tool
Microsoft sends security updates for patches to all compatible windows devices regularly. These updates cover up the exposed vulnerabilities on the OS, ensuring that your device remains safe. It’s, therefore, a crucial security tool.
Users who fail to update their devices, keep running on bug-ridden Windows version, and are under the mercies of hackers. To ensure that all your software is up to date, you can also exploit this feature from select antivirus providers.
Can you survive with Antivirus alone?
While having an antivirus is one step in the right direction, it may not be enough to secure your windows device. Antivirus software is useful when scanning and removing malware and viruses from your devices.
But since they’ve been in the market for a while, modern hackers have found ways to make their malware invisible to most antiviruses. So, regardless of the antivirus you have, you might still find malware in your system.
In a world where 5G technology and IoT are predicted to be the future, cyber threats appear to be an evil we’ll have to live with. However, this doesn’t mean that your windows device has to remain unprotected. With the right security tools, you can enjoy a private and secure experience without worrying about cyber threats.