Why you shouldn’t surf the Internet without antivirus protection
Many PC and Internet users are still unaware of the dangers lurking on the World Wide Web. Of course, most people have heard of viruses, Trojans, malware, ransomware and similar. But of course this only affects other people. You yourself are far too uninteresting for cyber criminals. So few people are bothered when the free trial subscription to the virus software and thus the protection against viruses has expired. People continue surfing without online protection for the time being. And when it happens, it’s usually too late. In this blog post, we want to provide information and raise awareness at the same time. We will show you:
- Reasons why many users are still negligent about this topic and surf without protection and compliance with security rules What can happen when what should not happen happens – and a virus has arrived on a computer Why viruses, malware and the like are developed and why every user can be affected – even those who have “nothing to get” on their PC.
Of course, we’ll also give you a few tips afterwards on how to deal with the worst-case scenarios. And we’ll show you what you can try if it does happen.
Why many Internet users surf without protection against viruses or with expired antivirus software:
Many users are on the Internet – without virus protection or with expired and non-updated antivirus software. But why? Here is a list of the most common reasons that explain this behavior, which we all know is wrong and dangerous. It is usually a combination of the reasons listed here.
1. Ignorance: no idea what viruses can do
Many Internet users are not aware of the danger of viruses and malware and do not know the risks. Many users who are surfing without protection have never had a virus on their computer. Either they have never had any experience with viruses or they have only encountered “harmless viruses”. Not every computer virus is immediately life-threatening or deletes all your data. As a result, many users have no idea what can happen. The second part of this article is recommended for all those who underestimate the dangers of surfing without or with expired virus software.
2. Ignorance: lack of knowledge about how to protect yourself properly
Many Internet users are not well informed about how they can protect themselves against viruses, malware and the like. In addition, there is a certain lack of technical knowledge about what computer viruses are and how they work. For these users, we recommend the last part of the article in which we briefly summarize the most common tips on how to protect yourself effectively on the Internet. Small spoiler: There is of course more you should do, like installing up-to-date antivirus software.
3. Blind trust
Many Internet users simply trust that nothing will happen to them while surfing. After all, nothing has ever happened. Besides, they have a firewall, which is certainly sufficient. Unfortunately, this is a misconception. Fun fact: The phrase “it’s never happened to me” is most often said after something has happened.
Some users are not prepared to pay for antivirus software. Once the free subscription to the virus software has expired, it is not renewed. These users therefore either surf without it at all or fall back on free programs that may not provide such good protection. Good virus protection is not expensive at all. As with almost all software products, good offers are always available. You just have to find them. More on this in the last part. 5. Laziness & convenience Some users may not have enough time or inclination to take care of their computer security. Which security solution is the best? Where can I get the best deal? Where can I get the best value for money? How does the new program work? What happens when the new virus software has expired? Many people plan to deal with these questions, but then put them off time and time again. But the decision doesn’t have to be that difficult…
6. overestimating your own technical skills
This is probably one of the rarest reasons why users do not organize virus protection, but it certainly happens: Users overestimate their own abilities and believe, for example:
- They follow all the security rules when surfing and therefore do not catch a virus,
- they have enough specialist knowledge to deal with the virus themselves if the worst comes to the worst
- This may be true for a very small number of people. Unfortunately, for most people this is a fallacy.
What viruses and malware can do to your PC
We have already briefly mentioned this in the previous section: Not every virus is life-threatening or deletes all your data. Some viruses are just annoying. In the following section, we will show you a short list of possible scenarios and damage that viruses, malware and other malicious programs can cause you. You will soon see that some of them are definitely no longer fun and have the potential to threaten your existence.
1. Delete or encrypt data on your PC
For many people, this is certainly the biggest potential loss: Viruses land on your PC and delete, damage, manipulate and encrypt your data. The hackers then demand a ransom to decrypt or restore the data. For those who make daily backups of their own data, this is probably not too much of a problem. However, in addition to personal data that is deleted or encrypted, viruses can also target system files. This can be very time-consuming at the very least, as the system has to be reinstalled and the previously used software has to be reinstalled (possibly bought again).
2. Theft of personal data
Viruses and malware can steal personal data such as usernames, passwords, accounts for various platforms, bank details and credit card information and pass them on to cyber criminals. This allows cybercriminals to use your identity to
- Shop at your expense using your data. Although two-factor identification has been around for some time, it is still possible that the stolen data will be enough to empty your account.
- Carry out other illegal activities online under a disguised account. This covers your own tracks, because the culprit is first and foremost you, as the criminal acts were carried out via your account.
- Damaging your reputation: By posting vulgarities on social media or posting embarrassing, compromising content online.
As you can see: Even if you back up your data on a daily basis; this damage can get really nasty.
3. manipulate and misuse your computer
Some viruses do not attack your data, but your system as a whole. Hackers then take control of your PC. The consequences could be
- Your system is slowed down as the hackers use your computer’s capacity for other things.
- For example, your PC is integrated into botnets. The hackers then use your PC for malicious and illegal purposes such as DDoS attacks or sending spam or phishing emails.
- The hackers may then also use your other accounts (including social media as well as email) to send malicious or dangerous links to your friends and acquaintances – without you noticing.
- Or hackers access your laptop camera and film you in embarrassing moments. A popular scam is filming you watching porn. These recordings are then used to blackmail you.
Of course, there are also viruses that “only” (only in quotation marks) affect individual programs and cause them to crash, or spy on your online and surfing behavior, e.g. to display targeted advertising. In general, however, there are no harmless viruses. Every virus, every piece of malware is harmful to your computer and your data. Even if a virus appears to have no effect on your computer or does not cause any immediate, recognizable damage. Perhaps it is just waiting to steal the “right” passwords or is on standby to become active at a later time.
Why viruses and malware are developed and why this danger can affect anyone
Based on the list in Part 2, you have probably already recognized why cyber criminals develop viruses and why you too – yes you, even if you think you are a totally uninteresting target – are at risk and can become a victim. We have briefly summarized here what exactly cyber criminals want to achieve with viruses.
1. Earn money
Developing and distributing viruses, malware and the like is the business of hackers and cyber criminals. It is their profession. Some viruses steal bank details and passwords from accounts and cyber criminals use them to get your money (or make purchases at your expense). Other viruses manipulate your system – encrypting important files, making embarrassing videos, threatening to damage your reputation and so on. They create the potential to blackmail you. If you want it to stop, you have to pay; that’s the business model. Small spoiler: Once you have paid, the whole thing usually really starts. It is guaranteed not to end with the first payment.
2. Steal your data – and sell it
This point is also about making money. However, viruses are not used to steal your money, but to steal your data and sell it on to third parties. This could be, for example:
- Your online and browsing behavior, which is sold to advertisers
- Your entire online identity, which third parties can in turn exploit in several ways
- Your email or social media accounts, which cyber criminals use to try to find new lucrative victims with you as the sender
3. Use your PC for illegal activities
Of course, most criminals are after money. And whether rich or poor, everyone who surfs the Internet is equally affected. But there are also cyber criminals who pursue “higher goals” with their viruses. But you are also in the firing line with this group.
- Viruses are used here to misappropriate your PC. Your computer then becomes part of a botnet, for example. In such a network, an army of infected computers is united to carry out malicious purposes such as DDoS attacks. This attack could, for example, paralyze the web server of a government agency, a hospital, the military, etc. and thus cause major damage at other levels. And your PC is then part of this attack.
- Or your social media accounts are used to share and spread fake news and conspiracy theories. Do you have expertise in a certain area? Your friends will probably believe these lies.
Intermediate conclusion: Surfing without virus protection and security knowledge can have serious consequences
As shown, there are many reasons why users surf the Internet carelessly and without adequate protection and do not renew virus software that has expired. Usually it is a mixture of convenience, ignorance and trust (“nothing will happen”). Sometimes it’s also the cost. After all, good activation software at a regular price is not cheap. But you have also seen what can happen when the damage is done and a virus has infected a system. Whether the criminals delete, encrypt or steal your data or misuse your system, it will certainly cost you a lot of time, money and, above all, nerves to get the effects under control. And it is not uncommon for you to lose valuable data irretrievably. And we have shown you the main reasons why criminals do what they do with their viruses. Of course, it’s all about the money. But even if you don’t have much of it, you’re just as much in the firing line as anyone else. As a rule, these criminal activities involve “small amounts” and the masses make the profit. And quite apart from that: how does the virus that has just encrypted all your vacation pictures and is blackmailing you know that you can’t pay a sum of 100 EUR? Quite apart from the fact that you should never pay even if you could. So you see: being a supposedly uninteresting victim for cyber criminals is not enough to escape possible damage. You also need to protect yourself. We will show you what you can do in the next part.
How to protect yourself while surfing – and minimize your risk of damage from viruses, malware and co
Of course, reliable and good antivirus software is the number one priority when surfing the Internet. If the virus software has expired, it should be renewed. This is the most important thing of all. But there is more you can do to stay safe from viruses, malware and the like when surfing the net. Here are our top 5 pieces of advice that you should follow in addition to using virus software.
1. Update your software regularly
It is important to regularly update all programs on your computer, including the operating system. Do not delay updates. Each update closes security gaps and reduces the risk of becoming infected.
2. Use strong passwords:
Use strong passwords for all your accounts, consisting of a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. This makes it more difficult for cyber criminals to guess your passwords using brute force attacks. And another tip: use different passwords for each account. Because if one account is hacked, the criminals cannot use the data to hack other accounts. I know, it sounds much easier in theory than in practice. But there are also powerful software solutions for this, such as the password manager from our partner Steganos Software.
3. Be careful when opening email attachments and clicking on links
Do not open email attachments or links from unknown or suspicious senders, as they may contain viruses and malware. In addition, avoid downloading files from unsafe sources. At the latest when you are asked to enter access data somewhere via such a link, you should stop immediately at this point and run a virus scan.
4. Supplement your virus protection with a firewall and add-on blocker
A firewall can help protect your computer from unwanted access and malicious attacks – as an add-on to virus software. An ad blocker can help block unwanted pop-up ads and ads from unreliable sources that may contain viruses and malware.
5. Make regular backups of your most important data and files
It’s best to have this backup on an external hard disk or securely in the cloud. If your PC is then infected by a virus, at least you know your data is safe. You can then immediately start to renew your entire system without worrying about data loss, in the hope of preventing other effects.
Helpful tools: protection against viruses and the “morning after pill”
In addition to theory, we also offer practice.
The rescue tool for Windows when the virus is already there – the SecuPerts Rescue Stick
The SecuPerts Rescue Stick is a first-aid tool for your PC. It helps with all kinds of damage, but also when a virus has made it onto your system. Then use this stick. It starts a stand-alone, Linux-based operating system and offers you the option of accessing your Windows from the outside. You can then use analysis tools:
- Start data recovery tools and save all the files that have not yet been infected by the virus
- Scan your PC for viruses, find malware from a protected interface, quarantine it and possibly delete it completely
If you have the stick ready to hand in the drawer immediately after the infection, it is not too late, especially for attempts to rescue data. Even if the tool is more or less a rescue pill for afterwards – you should already have the tool to hand beforehand. You can read more about the functions of the SecuPerts Rescue Stick and how it specifically helps with virus infections here: Rescue Stick – help with all PC and Windows problems. Also helps with virus attacks
There is currently no virus software in our software portfolio that we can offer you at a favorable price. However, many manufacturers, including suppliers of virus software, offer their products for sale again and again. We usually get attractive discounts of up to 50% and more. Simply subscribe to our newsletter, confirm our double opt-in and we will keep you up to date. It’s best to register now. If your virus software has expired, you already have a good alternative. Subscribe to our newsletter