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How to Equip Your PC Against Online Scams?

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Online scams are a real threat these days. There are countless ways cybercriminals can sneak into your PC to steal your sensitive data or persuade you to hand it over through a well-orchestrated scam. You can never be sure which link you click on contains some sort of malware you unknowingly download on your PC. Learn how to efficiently equip your PC against online scams, phishing attempts, and similar internet perils.

1. Use a Trustworthy Antivirus

A good antivirus not only protects you against viruses or trojans that can infect your computer and prevent it from functioning normally. It also helps you steer clear of other forms of malware such as spyware or ransomware. Antiviruses also detect and stop adware (unwanted advertisements) and phishing websites (fake websites created for the sole purpose of collecting customers’ personal information).
There are many antivirus providers you can choose from and many of them also offer a free version of their software. However, for increased protection, it’s better to opt for a paid version. A reliable antivirus with useful add-ons such as a VPN, a password manager, or parental controls can cost less than $80 per year. When you purchase an antivirus, you should also check if the subscription is automatically renewed. A solution with automatic renewal is better because it will keep your PC protected at any time and you don’t run the risk of remaining uncovered because you’ve forgotten to renew your plan.

2. Use a Firewall as a Line of Defense

All reputable antiviruses are equipped with firewalls these days. Firewalls work as a line of defense between your PC and what’s going on out there, on the vast and intricate internet. They can detect and block suspicious activity such as hacking or phishing attempts. Firewalls can also be used as separate solutions and you can easily install them on your device. Their purpose is to prevent intruders from accessing your PC. There are two types of firewalls (network and desktop) and used in conjunction, they ensure the highest level of protection.

3. Check Your Apps for Backups

For many, regularly updating apps is an annoying and inconvenient task. Reading an interesting article or watching a great movie just to be interrupted by a notification that urges you to update an app is frustrating. However, there is a reason why you get those notifications, especially if you’ve got an antivirus that scans outdated apps. The reason is online safety. An outdated app is like an unlocked door that allows hackers to enter your PC. Apps need to be constantly updated both for performance reasons, as this helps them work better, and for anti-malware purposes.

4. Customize Your Toolbar

Most popular browsers offer a customizable toolbar these days. There are different options you will find there. One that’s particularly useful for your anti-scam and anti-hacking efforts is the anti-phishing feature. Activating it only requires a few clicks and increases your security while navigating the internet using that browser. What the anti-phishing toolbar does is quickly compare an URL with a list of websites in its database. If the URL appears to come from a website that’s listed on the phishing sites list, the toolbar will immediately let you know.

5. Avoid Pop-Ups

Pop-ups are not always dangerous. Many legitimate websites use harmless pop-ups to promote an offer or enable their customers to get in touch with their support staff. However, if you’re browsing a certain website, and suddenly, you see a pop-up that seems to come from a different source, you should proceed with caution.
Many online scams begin like this. Hackers use a pop-up to advertise a great discount or a promotion and once the person clicks on it, he or she downloads malicious software on their device. Another common scenario is clicking on a pop-up that directs you to a new page where you’re asked to provide your personal data.
As a rule of thumb, it’s better to avoid clicking on pop-ups. If the offer they present lures you, start searching for more information about it. If it comes from a legit company, you will surely be able to access it on their official website. Many antiviruses provide tools that automatically block suspicious pop-ups and other unwanted ads. But if one of them slips by and ends up appearing on your screen, simply avoid it.

Implement the measures above to stay safe while browsing. The internet is a great place, but it can also be dangerous. The last thing you want is to waste time and money on online scams.

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