Scam messages can come in several ways, and while being and staying aware is important, can software do the job for you?
Whether you’re someone who uses it or someone who thinks it’s irrelevant, there’s a good chance you’ve had someone try to explain the positives that security software can bring to your lives. It can protect you from viruses, it can monitor and thwart malware, it can backup important files on your computer, and it can play the role of bodyguard for the internet’s nasties.
Security software has its uses, but much like buying a crown for your teeth after a root canal or buying toilet paper because, you know, you have to, security software is one of those things that rarely brings joy to our lives. You don’t want to buy security software; you do it because you have to, because it’s helpful to have to stop things from affecting your devices in negative ways.
But it’s also not unusual to find people to go without. After all, security software tends to be a yearly subscription cost, because you’re paying for the regular updates that prevent those nasties from doing nasty and nefarious things.
While it is possible to live a digital life without security software installed, it’s worth understanding what security software does.
How security software can help
You have software to browse the internet: a web browser.
You have software for calendar appointments and email, for playing media files, for writing documents, and for looking at photos.
Unsurprisingly, security software is for providing security for your computer, your phone, your tablet, and to anything that needs it. You don’t have to look far to find things on the web you don’t want on your computer, and while viruses are indeed a problem, as is malware, scams are a big part of that, as well.
“Comprehensive security software is an essential element of good online hygiene. It is like hand sanitizer for your digital devices,” said Mark Gorrie, Senior Director for the Asia Pacific arm of NortonLifeLock.
“Scams come in many forms, phishing emails with malicious links or attachments, fake shopping sites, text messages with phishing links, fake mobile apps, tech support scams and malicious links in social media scams to name a few,” he said.
It means that if you’re using a computer with some form of up-to-date security, you should expect that it looks over the emails you receive through email systems, either app-based or through an online provider, such as Gmail or Outlook. Security software can tag the links accordingly, giving you a heads up on whether or not you should click, just in case one has slipped by your regular scam checks without realising.
Anyone can get fooled, but if your computer has some element of protection, it can reduce the chances of throwing your details in using your computer.
And unfortunately, scams can affect any computer, and even phones, too.
When it comes time to dealing with phones, security software can get a little more complicated. While a comprehensive solution exists for pretty much any and every mobile operating system, it may not protect your phone in quite the same way as one made for Mac or Windows.
“Unfortunately scams are now a fact of life and it is near impossible to block all scams as they can come from emails, text messages, social, malicious apps, phone calls, even from ads in your internet searches,” said Gorrie.
“For best protection use call and text blocking for messages that come from the same service, [and] use comprehensive security that has full web protection that can inspect links in emails, texts and apps,” he said.
If you don’t want security software
And if you’re still in the boat that doesn’t want to spend on security software, know that you’re not alone.
If you don’t want security software on your devices (or you do, but you don’t want to pay for it), your best bet to keeping your devices and to prevent you from falling for scams is to be scam aware.
Scams are a part of life these days, so pay close attention to what comes in and make sure to question what you’re going to click.
The same goes for what you install on your computer, because it doesn’t take much effort to end up with some form of dodgy software on your computer. While operating systems have greatly improved over the years and include a degree of security in their code, it is still possible to get hit by security issues if you try.