Fresh Start – Preventing Malware Infections in 2021

Joe Smoczyk

Fresh Start – Preventing Malware Infections in 2021

4 mins
March 1, 2021

A guest post from our friends at Emsisoft.

1. Think Before You Click

Phishing preys on human tendencies and uses social engineering techniques to coax you into clicking things you shouldn’t. It’s responsible for 31 percent of cybersecurity incidents and is likely to be a prevalent threat in the months ahead as attackers seek to take advantage of the global shift to remote working. Make 2021 a phish-free year by thinking twice before clicking. Here a few key tips to avoid falling for a phishing scam:

  • Hover over URLs to check that the target address matches the linked text.
  • Type in web addresses instead of clicking on links.
  • Don’t open unsolicited email attachments.
  • Install an anti-phishing browser extension like Emsisoft Browser Security.
  • Call or text the sender of an email to confirm unusual requests.
  • Be wary of language that conveys a sense of urgency.
  • Be cautious of emails that don’t address you by name.

2. Apply Updates

Many types of malware work by taking advantage of security flaws in your applications or operating system. To fix these known security vulnerabilities and protect their users, software developers regularly release updates that should be applied as soon as they’re available.

While it may be tempting to ignore those nagging pop-up windows, keeping your software up to date is crucial for maintaining device security and reducing the risk of malware infection.

3. Install A Good Antivirus

There are a few good options on the market for antivirus and anti-malware software, so take the time to think about your requirements, read some reviews and install a few different trial versions (not at the same time!) to get a feel for each product.

If you’re looking for reliable, fast and easy-to-use protection, feel free to download a free trial of Emsisoft Anti-Malware and see if it’s a good fit. See this blog post for more advice on how to choose the right antivirus software.

4. Secure Your Router

Responsible for providing all of your devices with Internet connectivity, your router is perhaps the most important gadget in your home. Keep it secure with the following tips:

  • Update firmware: Router manufacturers release firmware (the low-level software your router runs on) updates to fix bugs, introduce new features and improve router security. While some modern routers can automatically update their firmware, we suggest periodically checking for updates via the router control panel and installing any available patches.
  • Change default login details: Most routers are shipped with the same default username (“admin”) and password (“password”). As you might have guessed, these credentials aren’t particularly hard to crack. Change the default login details to something more secure.
  • Change the Wi-Fi password: Make a fresh start in 2021 by changing your Wi-Fi password. You’ll need to reconnect all of your devices, but it also means that anyone who shouldn’t be lurking on the network will be kicked off. Always use WPA2 (or better) encryption for wireless security.
  • Disable WPS: Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) allows devices to connect to the network by pushing a button (which enables anyone with physical access to the router to connect to the network) or entering a PIN (which is more prone to brute force than an alphanumeric password). Unless you need WPS for a particular reason, we recommend disabling it.
  • Disable remote access: Many modern routers come with remote access that allows you to manage your router while you’re away from home. To reduce the risk of compromise, remote access should be disabled unless you specifically require it.

5. Steer Clear of Pirated Software

Pirated software poses a significant security risk (not to mention the serious ethical implications, which we won’t get into here). While statistics are scarce, it’s not uncommon for pirated software to be infected with malware such as password-stealing trojans, ransomware and cryptojackers.

In 2021, it’s time to retire the Jolly Roger and embrace your new life as a regular old landlubber. Wipe the slate clean by reformatting your device and only installing legitimate applications. There are many free, open-source business applications and productivity tools that provide similar functionality to paid alternatives, while gamers can legally enjoy a plethora of top-notch games without paying a cent as developers increasingly embrace free-to-play models.

We know that some of these suggestions appear daunting but don’t worry, Yellowstone Computing is here to help! Give our experts a call at 715-669-6136 or stop by our office located at 219 N Washington St, Thorp today! Don’t miss next week’s issue as we continue to count down basic steps to help you make 2021 malware-free!

This article was orginally reported by
Joe Smoczyk

Joe Smoczyk is the owner of Yellowstone Computing in Thorp, WI. Joe service the IT needs of local municipalities, businesses, and residents. Joe has been a contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News since 2014.