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Protection software: The right tools for protecting your identity online

Posted on Tuesday March 10, 2020

Protection software: The right tools for protecting your identity online

Anti-this or anti-that: Overwhelmed by the sheer number of tools and software out there to protect you on the web? From eliminating threats to managing and detecting spyware, we’ll explain all the different ways to protect your cybersecurity during Fraud Protection Month.   

Firewall: First line of defence against attacks

A firewall is an aptly named tool that acts as a shield to prevent any malicious intrusions into your computer. By filtering the data exchanged over various networks (including the Internet!), it serves as a secure portal that uses software to detect and block potentially dangerous communications. Regular system updates keep your computer safe from the most recent threats. Most operating systems can be configured to allow automatic updates.

Although many operating systems such as Windows come with built-in firewalls, they are rarely able to intercept all unsecured files. To protect your computer and the data on it, you should use a reliable and effective firewall, as Radio-Canada suggests in its Tech section. Your local IT service provider can also help you choose the right software for you.

Antivirus: A remedy for preventing infections

In medicine as in IT, an antivirus is all about stopping infections. Like an antidote, antivirus software protects your privacy by neutralizing and eliminating malicious or intrusive programs that have infected your computer without your knowledge.

Antivirus software analyzes your storage media to make sure it hasn’t been infected by programs that could modify or delete your personal files or the files needed for your computer to operate (such as Windows system files). If any harmful programs are detected, the antivirus software will quarantine or eliminate them to stop them in their tracks.

Comprehensive protection: An all-in-one antivirus solution

Today, some antivirus programs come with a firewall, anti-spyware and anti-spam software and a phishing filter to provide comprehensive protection for your computer. Various companies with a proven track record in the industry offer proven solutions at competitive prices, including Norton, McAfee and Kaspersky.

Anti-spyware: Tracking data collectors

Beware of spyware! These malicious programs collect your personal information and send it to third parties (such as companies, hackers, criminal organizations and the like). Often hidden in free or shared software and on infected Internet pages, spyware breaks into your computer system to monitor all your activities. Most of the time these programs are harmless, but they can sometimes do serious damage when they manage to collect sensitive data such as your passwords.

Anti-spyware detects, blocks or eliminates malware that’s snooping your data. Since malware is always evolving and adapting to thwart your defences, it’s important to update your anti-spyware tools regularly for maximum security.

Anti-spam: Intercepting fraudulent messages

Much more than a way to banish bothersome unsolicited ads or emails hawking miracle hair-loss solutions, anti-spam programs actually protect you from fraudsters. In fact, over 90% of hacker attacks are carried out via phishing.

Phishing is a technique where hackers send emails that appear to come from a trusted source (such as a financial institution or large corporation) in order to get at your personal information or hard-earned cash. By mimicking the logo, name and graphic design of the official site, hackers can easily dupe users into thinking the message is legit, according to the Canadian Bankers Association.

To protect yourself and your data and to prevent fraudsters from accessing your data, spam filters block these harmful messages from ever making their way into your in box.

How can you recognize a “phishy” message?

Machines are good, but humans are even better! To identify fraudulent messages for yourself, be on the lookout for situations designed to elicit impulsive responses, such as those describing a state of emergency, a problem or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Hackers frequently engage in this kind of manipulation to get you to react emotionally instead of rationally. And remember that UNI would never send an email or text message asking you to click a link.

According to Acadie Nouvelle, the rise in extortion cases in New Brunswick linked to phishing scams illustrates the importance of keeping an eye out. Using caution and thinking before you act are still the best ways to protect yourself today.

VPN: Masking your identity

Want to stay incognito while surfing the web? A virtual private network (VPN) is a software program that sends your encrypted communications through another server before it reaches its final destination, making your browsing completely anonymous. That means your IP address, your location and all your personal data are inaccessible.

According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, VPNs are very useful if you conduct transactions involving sensitive data, such as banking transactions, over public Wi-Fi networks. The security features of a VPN allow you to send and receive data as if you were connected to your private network.

Fraud Prevention Month is a good time to think about the software you use and update it to keep it running optimally. Since fraud doesn’t just happen on your computer, always keep an eye out for other possible scams. To have a little fun with it, why not skip your morning sudoku and take the Government of Canada’s Fraud Quiz?

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