Did you know that you are more likely to be a victim of cybercrime than any other crime in the UK? Police statistics released show that £190,000 is lost by cybercrime every day in the UK. There’s a good reason why criminals have gone online. Over £100 Billion is being spent online each year by UK consumers and criminals don’t even need to leave there bedroom to target them. What makes it worse is that the prosecution by police for cybercrime is reducing year on year. We are going to provide you with Free Security software that can protect you from cybercriminals.
Cybercriminals will target your bank cards, gain access to your phones, laptops, hack your passwords and inject your computer with viruses and trojans. Despite the warnings from online security companies, 61% of people still use the same password for all there accounts. If a hacker gains access to your passwords then they, in theory, will have passage to all your accounts.
Right, thats enough, lets get into the best ways to protect yourself online free.
All the security features that we show you in this guide will be free to use and will be able to protect you without you spending money. Some of the features we show you have a premium option with additional security features.
Anti-Virus Software is the backbone of your online protection and your wall of defence against malware and viruses.
Avast is available for Windows, Apple and your mobile phone. The free version provides a full system scan, file shield and online protection. Avast also has password manager and web browser protection something you don’t see on other systems. Let’s take a look at the comparison between the free and premium version:
The reason we have chosen Avast Free Antivirus software is the level of protection it provides. It detects viruses, malware, spyware, ransomware and phishing and that’s on the free software. Avast works in the background and works smoothly while you work. We would go far to say that the level of protection that it provides would compete with a lot of the premium paid antivirus systems. One last thing, make sure that any Antivirus software you use is up to date as there are always new threats to your computer.
Virus and Malware Scanner
Security scanners search for both known and unknown viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, phishing, and other internet threats. Security software companies like Norton, Mcafee, Bitdefender and Kaspersky provide a good online scanner. But our favourite for Windows computers is ESET Online Scanner as it provides the most in-depth search of your computer.
If you have a Mac computer then Avast Free Full Scan is more then up to the task searching for Viruses and Malware. Once you complete a search with Avast’s full scan, any malware or virus detected will be quarantined within Avast’s Virus Chest. At this point, you can delete them from your computer.
Windows computers are well known for having poor file management and leave a lot of unnecessary files that can really slow your computer right down.
CCleaner is a popular download that will remove files that are clogging up your computer memory and leave your system sluggish. CCleaner is available for Mac and Windows Computers. The CCleaner will speed up your computer by removing unused files that are building up on your computers main hard drive. Removing unneeded files also reduces work on your memory and avoids crashes and freezes.
Follow These Tips Online To Stay Secure
Anti-Virus Software is not the only way you can protect yourself online. Being aware of the main reasons why users become victims of cybercrime is also important. Either clicking on suspicious emails or delaying your computer updates are the most common problems that leave you vulnerable and open to attack. Being aware of risks will reduce your chances of becoming a victim of CyberCrime.
Encrypt Your Computer
Windows and Mac operating systems provide users with a free drive encryption software that protects your files.
Windows – Bitlocker is apart of the Windows operating system and protects against threats of data theft.
Mac – FileVault has full disk encryption that protects against unauthorised access to files on your computer.
Phishing is a technique used by CyberCriminals where they pretend to be a trustworthy business or website to receive sensitive user information. Cybercriminals will target users through fake emails and websites resembling trustworthy businesses. Email is still the most popular way to target users. The reason being is they can send millions of emails to everyone around the world and only need 1% of users to respond to the email by clicking on a link. Urgency is the biggest manipulation tactic for cybercriminals. Emails will contain a time countdown and an amount of money that they could receive to pressures users into clicking links.
A number of users are receiving emails from the HMRC and it’s claiming they are owed a refund of hundreds of pounds. Let’s take a look at an example fake email:
Looking at this email it does look quite convincing, you have a transaction ID and a warning about giving out financial information and passwords, Oh the Irony!
HMRC DO NOT send emails regarding refunds. They will only do so by post to your home address for any rebates that you are owed!
If you do receive an email like this always think ‘if something is too good to be true, it probably is’. If you are unsure of an email, what you must never do is click on any links within the email. Even opening up a suspicious looking email can automatically download a virus or unwanted software.
Secure Your Passwords
As we discussed at the beginning of this article, most users have the same password for every account they have. What’s even worse is the simplistic passwords that people are using. For example, ‘qwerty’, ‘Password1’ and ‘123456’ are common passwords that are easy for brute force programs to gain access too. The best way to make your password secure is by using a mixture of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and symbols. Remember to have a different password for each account that you have.
LastPass is a free password manager that allows users to store multiple passwords on a secure AES-256 bit encryption. Forgetting passwords is a thing of the past as you can now store them in one secure location. LastPass will save site passwords as you browse the internet on there Password Vault. This allows you to have a number of different passwords for each website and removes the issue of using simple passwords and having to remember them. The password manager is downloadable on your computer and more importantly on your internet browser.
The LastPass website offers a free Password Generator that is sophisticated and randomised and has no relation to words or phrases, further strengthening your passwords. With the LastPass Generator, your password can be up to 99 characters long.
Use Two Factor Authentication
Two Factor Authentication is an additional security feature that secures your accounts further than just your password. Check whether websites offer Two-Factor Authentication and you will be able to store them on Google Authenticator.
All you need is:
- Mobile Phone
- Download Google Authenticator
Facebook has two-factor authentication and that’s what we are going to use. Download Google Authenticator on your mobile phone and then go on Facebook Two-Factor Authenticator settings. You will be asked to scan a QR code which can be done by using the Google Authenticator barcode camera. You can also manually input the code. Once complete the facebook authenticator will be stored on Google and the code will change every 30 seconds. When you login the next time you will be expected to input the code that is on Google Authenticator. Make sure you don’t uninstall google authenticator as you won’t have access to the codes that will log you in.
BackUp Your Computer
Computers have backup software built into the computer:
Windows: BackUp and Restore
Mac: Time Machine
Make sure you backup your computer regularly so that your data is safe and not vulnerable to viruses and trojans. If you backup regularly and your data does become encrypted or lost, all you need to do is restore to your most recent backup.
When you are browsing the internet, make sure you keep an eye on whether your connection with a website is private, encrypted and secure. Most browsers will determine this by showing a Lockscreen next to the site address. This can also be confirmed by looking at the website address itself.
If the website starts with https://earnsavemoney.com then the website is secure. However, if you see http://website.com then this means that the website is not encrypted and we would advise you to leave the website immediately. Any information that you process over a website that’s not encrypted will make it easy for eavesdroppers to gain access to that information.
Virtual Private Networks
Virtual Private Networks are vital for protecting yourself online. VPN’s work by creating a secure connection to another network over the Internet and allows you to be completely anonymous. Without it, you leave yourself wide open to hackers, internet service providers and the government who are able to gain access to your unsecured connection.
HotspotShield is probably the best Free VPN that is on offer on the internet. The free version offers 500mb daily data allowance and military-grade encryption included. We have two problems with it though, first off there are ads and second the data allowance is very low. But what can you expect for something that is free, VPN’s are not cheap where ever you look so we shouldn’t complain too much.
VPN’s are vital for your protection online but this also come at a price. ExpressVPN is the best premium option to choose because of its maintained speed and consistent protection online.
Opera has been busy this last year, they have introduced a VPN, Ad Blocker and have Facebook and Whatsapp messenger built into the web browser. Remember we talked earlier about how expensive VPN’s are? Well, Opera offers it for free and already built into the browser. Just remember, you will only be protected when you are using the Opera browser.
Once you have downloaded the Opera browser to your desktop, you will need to take a few more steps before you turn on your VPN. Click on ‘Opera’ and then ‘Preferences’.
Once you are in preferences then scroll down to the bottom where you can see ‘Advanced’, click that. Then you need to scroll down to where it says ‘VPN’.
Enable VPN and there you go, you can browse the internet anonymously. You should see a blue VPN sign next to the web address bar. Ad-blocker should automatically be active within the browser.
If you are not keen on the Opera browser and would still like to implement Ad-Blocker while searching the web. Then you can download an extension that will do the same job but on a browser of your choice.
Ad-Blocker Plus does what it says on the tin, it blocks annoying ads. This, in turn, speeds up the loading time of websites as they are working less to load the irritating ads. There will be no more popups or flashing banners that will get in your way. Adblocker has some security features as well, Adblocker will stop websites from tracking you while you surf the web.
Tor (The Onion Router) is a free open source internet browser that allows anonymous communication. You might have heard about Tor being used to access the dark web, but that’s not only what it’s used for. Tor offers anonymous browsing of the internet automatically clearing cookies and history straight after you close the browser. Tor prevents anyone surveilling you while you browse and they will only identify the browser that you are using, not your browsing information. There objective is to defend your privacy by encrypting your connection through the Tor network.
Search Engine Privacy
DuckDuckGo is a search engine that is based on complete privacy while searching the internet. They don’t track your searches or collect your personal information while you browse. They are a straight-up search engine with privacy and user experience in mind. We understand that Google is dominating the search engine demographic but if users gave DuckDuckGo a chance they would realise that its a really good engine.
Send Emails Securely
ProtonMail is a free secure email service that provides complete end to end encryption. All user emails are protected by Switzerland’s strict privacy laws and you don’t need to provide any personal information at registration.