Trends and evidence show that Windows users are at the highest risk of being hacked. The reasons behind this relate to more than just technical vulnerabilities, which are considerably many. For instance, the fact that Windows has the highest number of users increases the amount of risk. It is more profitable for a hacker to exploit Windows users than users running other operating systems.

Contrary to popular belief and understanding, hacking is more common than it is thought to be. In fact, subtle user-targeted hacks are more common than the highly publicized hacks that target governments and corporations. The difference is that few users know if and when they are hacked and their system vulnerabilities. For instance, KRACK attacks that make use of a WPA2 exploit were just recently uncovered.  Though patches resolved the issue almost the moment it was found, we cannot always count on developers and researchers to catch these issues instantly.

So, through no fault of your own, you find that you are now the possible target of a malicious hacker. How then do you, as a Windows user, avoid being hacked?

Stopping Wi-Fi Hacks

Each hack relies on an effective point of insertion and often that point is your network.Open Wi-Fi networks are one of the most common access points for hackers. Most people fail to understand that networks work both ways. In the same way that an open network gives you unrestricted access, so too does the network gain access to your Windows PC. Hackers too gain the same level of access when on an open network. Avoid open Wi-Fi networks at all costs.

Additionally, there is reason to be wary of seemingly secure Wi-Fi networks. Most devices utilize the WPA2 security protocol to encrypt and secure their Wi-Fi. An exploit in the configuration and function of the WPA2 protocol is what makes KRACK attacks possible. The only way to guarantee your security when on a Wi-Fi network, or any other network for that matter, is through the installation of VPN for PC. Aside from encrypted network security, a VPN also guarantees anonymity and thus, internet privacy.

Updating your antivirus

Any Windows PC relies on Windows Defender, the native antivirus and antispyware software. While it operates in normal conditions, it is not very well equipped to handle modern-day cybersecurity threats. The first thing you should do is install a more comprehensive antivirus. Most premium antivirus software is equipped to handle offline and online threats with optimal performance and efficiency. More importantly, internet security companies are always developing security updates to combat a broader range of threats. That is why you should always update your antivirus. As time progresses, more threats are discovered, which have the potential to hack into your device and affect you in more ways than one. With continued updates, you ensure that you have the latest antimalware installed on your Windows PC. The same should apply even if you decide to use Windows Defender.

Avoiding free software

Freeware is yet another common point of insertion used by hackers. This tactic makes use of social engineering by exploiting your need for the software and either an unwillingness or inability to pay for it. Most of the useful software for Windows that’s available in the market requires that you pay for it. Some developers provide a freemium version with limited capabilities, while others only provide paid-for versions of the software. A hacker then finds a way to eliminate the paid-for aspects of the software and provides it for free on the internet. The catch is that malware is embedded in the free software.

An antivirus can identify the malware but in most cases, people bypass the restrictions set by the antivirus and install the free software all the same. The malware then goes live and causes havoc on your Windows PC. Depending on the purpose of the malware, the havoc is subtle as in the case of keyloggers or very open as in the case of ransomware. A good example of this is the spying controversy surrounding free Kaspersky software offered by Barclays Bank to its customers. If there is any truth to it, it would prove to be a very good example of why avoiding free software is an excellent idea.

The takeaway

While it’s true that Windows is the least secure operating software, we can’t all avoid it altogether. Instead, take adequate measures to understand the vulnerabilities, risks and cybersecurity threats that you face while using Windows PC. More so, utilize measures such as the installation of up-to-date security software, avoiding malicious social engineering such as unsecured freeware and malicious emails, etc.