Have you been paying attention to the recently discovered flaws in computer chips? I'm talking about the security issues dubbed Meltdown and Spectre.
If you own a computer or laptop, you're most definitely impacted by these flaws. Click here to read our in-depth article detailing this issue.
Now, there's more bad news that you need to know about. Cybercriminals are trying to exploit the Meltdown and Spectre bugs.
Meltdown and Spectre threats are sure to come
An interesting fact about the Meltdown and Spectre bugs is they have been around in modern processors for nearly 20 years. However, it wasn't reported until last week that pretty much every computer and smartphone is impacted by the flaws.
Up to this point, there has been no evidence that cybercriminals have exploited the flaws. But it's only a matter of time before they try to.
The most obvious attack will be hackers trying to steal passwords from your web browser. The good news is, tech companies were warned about the flaws before the public and have been working on fixes.
Which means it's critical that you keep your apps, browsers and gadgets' operating systems up-to-date. It's the best way to stay protected from these threats.
Senior Fellow at UT Austin's Strauss Center, Matt Tait, told CNNMoney, "If you install your security updates, you will get new clever software features designed to protect your computer. When your browser updates, it will prevent websites from attacking your processor and stealing your password."
More potential attacks
Another thing to be on the lookout for are phishing attacks. Scammers know these chip flaws are all over the news and will try and take advantage of people's fears.
Cybercriminals typically create spoofed emails or messages that look to be from legitimate companies, like Intel, dealing with issues like this. The email will contain a malicious link, asking you to enter your credentials to websites or bank accounts.
If you enter this information you will be handing it over to scammers. That's why you need to know how to prevent falling victim to a phishing attack.
Be cautious with links
Do not follow web links in unsolicited email messages, it could be a phishing attack. Cybercriminals always take advantage of popular websites and trending news stories to try and find new victims. That's why you need to be able to recognize a phishing scam. One thing to watch for with phishing attacks are typos, criminals are typically careless with spelling and grammar. If you receive an email or notification from a reputable company, it should not contain typos. Take our phishing IQ test to see if you can spot a fake email.
Have strong security software
Make sure you're using strong antivirus software on all of your gadgets. And keep them up-to-date for the best protection. This is the best way to keep your device from being infected with malware.
Set up two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication, also known as two-step verification, means that to log in to your account, you need two ways to prove you are who you say you are. It's like the DMV or bank asking for two forms of ID. This adds an extra layer of security and should be used whenever a site makes it available. Click here to learn how to set up two-factor authentication.
Use unique passwords
Many people use the same password for multiple websites. This is a terrible mistake. If your credentials are stolen from one site and you use the same username and/or password on others, it's easy for the cybercriminal to get into each account. Click here to find out how to create hack-proof passwords.
Bonus: Have a backup in the cloud
Gadget disasters can strike anytime. We sometimes take for granted how our computers, tablets and phones seem to work all the time ... until they don't.
And it's not just software issues and malware threats that we need to watch out for, natural calamities like floods, fire and storms can wipe out all our data in a flash.
This is why a quick and reliable backup in the cloud is a must if you have tons of data you want to protect. We recommend our sponsor IDrive. You can backup multiple gadgets with a single account, even your social media accounts!
Ready for a better backup?
SECURITY FLAW IN WEB BROWSER AUTOFILL TOOLS CAN STEAL YOUR DATA
Speaking of flaws, here's another unrelated threat you need to know about. Browser autofilling is one of the conveniences of modern web browsers. But you have to read about this latest flaw that can turn this convenience into a tool that can track you and even steal your information!