It’s late 2021, so I’d like to take some time to reflect on the major safety-related stories from the past year.
In 2021, we learned a lot about the SolarWinds attacks that were discovered in December 2020. The suspected Russian hackers behind the attack targeted multiple government agencies, thousands of private companies, and other organizations using SolarWinds Orion software.
Earlier this year, Microsoft warned that the hacking group known as Nobelium or Cozy Bear was returning. According to Microsoft, this time around, the group tried to disrupt the global IT supply chain by attacking resellers and technology providers who help customers manage and deploy Microsoft’s cloud services.
Ransomware has been a problem for US government agencies and companies in a variety of industries, from water systems in the United States to payroll companies. At the end of the year, Microsoft even warned that an exploit was paving the way for state-sponsored hackers from China, Iran, North Korea and Turkey to launch ransomware attacks.
Phishing was another headache for security personnel. With many employees working from home, the environment was ripe for clicking nefarious links in emails and distributing malware.
To avoid getting caught in phishing, hacking, and other attacks, we recommend that you use one of our top picks among antivirus solutions. Some of you were quite opposed to using third-party antivirus in the comments section of this article, and even accused me of taking bribes from Norton. I can assure you that it does not – our tests have shown that the built-in antivirus Microsoft Defender Antivirus does not provide the full protection that many third-party options, even the free ones, offer.
The best antivirus offers great phishing protection. PCMag’s senior security analyst, Neil J. Rubenking, noted that Defender received poor ratings for phishing protection, but also noted that Defender was an appropriate fallback.
Whatever you do about virus protection, stay vigilant. Great anti-virus protection doesn’t give you carte blanche to click links in emails in your spam folder or visit unsecured websites. Common sense is also a form of virus protection.
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4 safety tips for shopping after the holidays
Cyber â€‹â€‹criminals don’t take time off during vacation. The busy online shopping season is like catnip for hackers eager to steal your money and information while browsing the post-sale offers.
Here are some tips to help you stay safe in the New Year:
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Use credit cards. Debit cards are the same thing as cash, which means that if someone steals your money, it’s probably gone forever. Credit card users are better protected against fraud as a debit card user.
Visit safe websites. Make sure all the websites that you use your credit card on are legitimate. A telltale sign is a locked padlock icon in the address bar. If you don’t see this, the site is not safe.
Use a password manager. Use unique, strong passwords across the web and make it easy for yourself with a password manager. Most password managers are encrypted vaults that not only store logins and passwords, but also other sensitive information that you use online, such as credit card numbers.
Receive fraud alerts. Log in to your bank or credit card processor to receive notifications of suspected fraud. Your institution may allow you to set up your account to block charges or to receive emails or text messages for charges in excess of a certain amount.
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