Most of us are aware of computer viruses, and many have been confronted with them at one time or another. Viruses can compromise more than just computers though. Any electronic device that connects to the internet can be at risk, and we have a list below that will tell you which devices are the most vulnerable.
A virus is malicious software that can hurt your device by deleting files, damaging programs, or even reformatting the hard drive. They can keep computers from functioning properly or accessing certain material. Ransomware can completely lock you out of your critical files.
When it comes to viruses, most every internet-connected device is vulnerable, as viruses can spread quickly over the web. Read on to see which of your devices are the most vulnerable to malware, and what steps you can take to keep your devices safe. Computer viruses are pretty preventable, you just need a little know-how to avoid them. We’re here to help with that.
Computers are still the number one target
They’re called computer viruses for a reason—malware was designed specifically to access computers, so they continue to be the devices most vulnerable to viruses. Beyond just making a computer impossible to use, viruses trove for important information and delete it or steal it for illicit purposes.
With computers so heavily utilized in businesses, schools and even in the home, they’re a logical target. These devices are full to the brim with valuable data that can allow hackers to steal identities, hack accounts and a number of other illegal but highly profitable activities.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect your computer from viruses that are pretty easy to follow. One key is to have security software on your computer and keep it, along with other software, up to date.
Software updates are designed to remove bugs and close entryways for viruses and other malware that might infect your computer.
Also, if you share a computer, make sure everyone has their own password-protected account and that only one person gets to be an administrator. The administrator can download anything onto a computer but standard accounts can’t, so that can help avoid accidental virus downloads by more careless users.
Yes, smartphones and tablets can get viruses
The next most easily infected devices are smartphones and tablets. Partially because, like computers, there are a lot of them which make them lucrative targets for criminals. Another reason is that they have similar web browsing capabilities to computers.
You can stumble on a bad link, or click into a phishing email on your phone as well as on your computer. Some functions are more limited, sure, but malicious apps exist to get you to download them and input personal information and to access files and passwords saved to your tablet and phone.
In other words, there are other methods of tricking you into putting malware on your device.
So be cautious. When looking at your email, don’t click just any link (especially when you can’t hover over it and see the address like you can on a computer), even from a trusted source. Keep an eye out for signs that your phone or tablet has been hacked and remove questionable apps you may have downloaded on a whim one day.
Get anti-malware software onto your phone and tablet, and learn how to reboot in safe mode in case the worst happens. Like with your computer, vigilance can keep your phone safe from viruses.
Your TV really could be watching you
Again, being able to access the internet can lead to some unfortunate consequences for your devices. Smart TVs are gaining popularity, functionality, and therefore, security issues.
If you download the wrong app, your smart TV could actually listen in on your conversations and send that information to those that developed the malicious software.
If your TV has a webcam or microphone, cover them up when they’re not in use to avoid being overheard. As with all of your devices, you want to make sure to keep your private information private and limit access to your device as much as possible.
You can’t download anti-malware to your smart TV currently, but thankfully, you aren’t likely to have anything on it that you didn’t put there. Just be careful, and you’ll be fine.
Attackers using your smart appliances
Smart appliances, be they microwaves, fridges, lights, or anything, can occasionally be accessed by outsiders, or contract malware that disrupts their usage. But not having a functioning microwave is really not as bad as your credit card numbers being accessed by a hacker.
What you need to watch out for are distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. DDoS attacks use devices that connect to the internet, like smart appliances or any other devices on this list, by accessing them and telling them all to make the same request on a particular site at the same time.
This can bring websites down, as the requests overload their servers. If you want to keep your smart appliances from being used, make sure they’re properly secured by keeping your router’s firmware updated and change your admin username and password in the device as soon as you can to something unique.
Also, keep firewalls activated on your router. That should help keep malware out of your smart appliances.
Smart speakers are safe from viruses…for now
Due to the way smart speakers operate, they are actually less vulnerable to hacks than other internet-connected gadgets like your smartphone or your computer.
Why? Well, unlike laptops that can run an infinite combination of computer programs and web browser plugins, smart speakers are relatively simple — all they do is listen to your audio commands and return a response from a centralized server.
Hackers only have two options to steal your information from a smart speaker — directly hack into Amazon or Google’s servers or intercept your voice communications to the gadget.
For example, even if you do use your Echo or Google Home for online shopping, your credit card information is not saved locally in your smart speaker. It’s actually stored and encrypted in Amazon’s or Google’s servers.
In fact, if hackers could get to this data, then the security issue is with these tech giants’ larger infrastructure, which is a more serious problem in and of itself.
Viruses are a real threat, but some devices are more vulnerable than others. Armed with your new knowledge, go forth and protect your devices as soon as you can and keep malware from hurting you and your loved ones.