Today’s society, globally and African-based, is always on, always connected – from PCs and notebooks to tablets, smartphones and even smart televisions and other devices – we have become used to accessing the Internet at will, wherever we are. While pervasive connectivity may offer many advantages, such as the ability to connect, transact, shop, communicate, research and practically conduct our entire lives online, it also creates an inherent vulnerability.
Cybercrime is a growing problem, and issues such as malware, identity theft, fraud and more are only too real. Protecting your computer with only a standalone anti-virus solution is simply no longer enough to protect your devices and your sensitive information. A comprehensive, 360-degree security solution for various multiple connected devices is the only way to ensure that you do not fall foul of the myriad threats that populate the connected cyber world.
Antivirus software was developed in an age when the Internet was not an all-encompassing tool, and as such is not sufficient protection in a connected world. It is designed to remove infections that slow PC performance and neutralise malicious viruses, spam and unsafe downloads. However, antivirus software provides little protection for online activities. When users regularly perform activities such as online banking and shopping, for example, or even simply browse the Internet or use social media, they are potentially exposing their device and their information to cybercriminals with malicious intent. A common activity online is also to download content, which could be masking malware or malicious software used to gather sensitive information. This could cause damage to PCs, notebooks, mobile devices, networks, data and even result in the theft of personal information. In addition, phishing scams – such as links sent to you via email to, for example, confirm your banking details – are all too common, and even online links on social media can lead to websites that could result in a compromised device.
An antivirus solution alone can do nothing to protect users in any of these instances, and the results could be devastating. Compromised bank details could lead to thousands of Rands being unlawfully withdrawn from accounts. If credit card details are exposed online, cybercriminals can then use the card to run up massive debts. Phishing scams can expose sensitive company information, which can then be used to steal money from businesses or scam clients, damaging both income and reputation. A worst-case scenario is that a person’s entire identity could be stolen online, which brings with it a whole host of other problems and challenges.
With more connected devices than ever before, accessing the Internet has become something we take for granted. However, when using tablets and smartphones to connect to the Internet, transact, shop, bank and so on, these devices are exposed to the same threats as a regular computer. On top of this, downloading of applications (apps) from unauthorised sources, in other words from anywhere other than your device’s official app store, could potentially compromise the device. Users are often lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to browsing and transacting on mobile devices, but cybercriminals go where the money is, and mobile devices are not ‘safe’ without protection.
The solution is simple – you need adequate online protection for all of your devices from a proven, reliable and reputable security solution vendor that includes antivirus for computers and mobile, antispyware, browser and social media protection, identity theft protection, automated backup and more. Security should be continuously updated with the latest definitions to ensure protection, and offer scanning that does not affect system performance. Security solutions should also detect and remove spyware and unwanted monitoring software, block hackers from accessing devices and block Internet worms. Spam filters should assist with email protection, and social media protection assists with preventing dangerous links and downloads in news feeds. Backup and recovery should also be included to protect data in the case of damage to or loss of a device.
In an increasingly mobile and connected world, protecting yourself and your devices from malware and cybercrime is essential. While anti-virus is still a necessary tool, on its own it is far from sufficient. Users today need protection as sophisticated as the threats and vulnerabilities they face. By ensuring you have the best protection on all of your devices, you will be able to browse with confidence on any and all of your devices, without worrying about attacks from a multitude of cyber threats.
By Fred Mitchell, Symantec Division Manager, Drive Control Corporation