Cyber criminals try to smuggle malware onto a system as unnoticed as possible. In contrast to the past, today’s malware not only endangers computers in the narrower sense, but basically targets every software-controlled and networked system. In addition to smartphones and tablets, this applies in particular to routers and also to internet-enabled devices such as remote-controlled security cameras, an office door that can be controlled via the internet or smart door locks on vehicles and front doors.
In particular, always keep the virus protection program , the Internet browser and the operating system up to date. Carry out the necessary updates automatically in a timely manner or install updates manually if necessary in order to close security gaps.
Safe handling of e-mails
- Be careful when opening emails with attachments . It doesn’t matter whether it’s seemingly harmless files such as images, documents or other files. If you are not sure or are not expecting an email, to be on the safe side, ask the sender by telephone or other means. In this case, look for the contact options yourself and do not simply reply to the sender address.
- Never click on links in unsolicited emails. These often lead to infected websites. If you access these, you can already be infected with malware. Instead, enter the desired Internet address of the real provider by hand in the address line of your browser or go to saved favorites if you use a page regularly.
- Be suspicious if you receive e-mails with a subject in a foreign language or a subject line that arouses curiosity. Unfortunately, that alone is no longer sufficient as an indication, since the language of the phishing mails is also becoming increasingly better.
- If possible, set your e-mail program so that it does not show a preview of e-mails. This allows you to delete unknown or suspicious messages from the inbox before they can download potentially malware code from a server. You can open trusted messages with a double-click.
- Do not send attachments from less secure sources or email attachments. Otherwise you will end up helping unconsciously and unintentionally to distribute malware programs.
Regular back-up data
Back up your data regularly, so you can restore them just in case. If you use an external hard drive for this, it should not be constantly connected to the PC. Otherwise, if your system gets infected with malware, the data on it will most likely get corrupted as well.
Understand device formats and security
- Be particularly critical of executable program files with the extensions .exe, but also .bat, .com or .vbs. In order for the file type to be visible, you should adapt the standard configuration of your computer accordingly. Instructions for Windows are available on this Microsoft page.
- Attention: Even compressed archive files that end in .zip, for example, can contain executable programs and should therefore never be opened without being checked.
- Do not enable macros if prompted to do so.
- When purchasing new Internet-enabled devices, you should thoroughly check the aspect of IT security before purchasing. Based on manufacturer information and product tests, you can find out whether the interfaces of the devices are adequately protected against attacks and whether the devices are regularly provided with updates over several years. The supposedly cheap technology bargain, for example, in the form of a surveillance camera, can otherwise quickly become a danger if IT-savvy burglars hack it to scout out the next crime scene.
- In the future, the IT security label can also be used provide helpful information. They should be able to find out about the security functions of networked, Internet-enabled products guaranteed by the manufacturer.
Be skeptical on social media
- Be skeptical about messages and offers from participants you do not know on social networks. In principle, the same safety instructions apply as when dealing with e-mails. But you should also not uncritically click on every link in messages from acquaintances or friends. This also applies to alleged lottery invitations via SMS or WhatsApp .
- Be critical of sweepstakes. Facebook and Instagram are popular platforms for scammers to steal your data with fake sweepstakes.
- Don’t get involved if you get a friend request on Facebook, for example, from someone you’re already friends with. You could lose money doing this.