QUESTION: What part of my computer is most at risk to viruses?
ANSWER: There are many ways viruses can infect your computer system. Being connected to the internet is amazing, however, it comes with risks. For information to flow, digital doors must be opened, but that presents opportunities for criminals to come through those doors. Cybersecurity companies constantly work on keeping criminals out, while allowing good information to flow in.
However, the most vulnerable link in the entire chain of the internet sits precisely between the keyboard and the chair. That's right, YOU are the most vulnerable part of your computer. The most common way hackers get access to your systems is when you give it to them. These criminals can be very convincing, leading you to believe that they are there for your benefit, but all they will leave you with is an empty bank account and heartache. This tactic is known as a "socially engineered attack." This uses the human loophole to get around cyber security measures.
A common practice is for hackers to make something on a website that looks like a legitimate Windows popup saying that your computer is severely infected. Because it looks real, there is a good chance you will click on it out of fear. This could either lead you to a website where you can buy "anti-virus software" that is actually a virus. The same thing could happen through email. Another possibility is either the website or email will prompt you to call a customer service number. The "technician" on the phone will talk you through the process for them to gain remote access to your computer where they can easily steal any information you have on your computer, or install their own viruses.
You can protect yourself from socially engineered attacks by being suspicious of anyone who reaches out to you by email, website, or even a phone call offering help for which you didn't ask. Even if a friend sends you a text, email, or Facebook message, verify it is in fact from them. Phone numbers are easy to counterfeit, and email and social media accounts can be hacked. If a caller says they are from your bank or a popular online retailer, contact them back at a phone number or email you know is legitimate, and NEVER give anyone who contacts you a two-factor authentication code you received in a text.
If you still have concerns about cyber security or think you already have a computer virus, contact your local IT professional for guidance.