A few years ago, ensuring personal or small business security meant only having a frequently updated antivirus utility on your computer. That’s all you needed to keep your data safe from cybercriminals, ransomware, and the occasional viruses that made your computer slower. Fast forward to today, and personal or small business security is a different ball game. From ransomware that encrypts entire filesystems, to phishing attacks that are hard to detect or mitigate; choosing a security software has become one of the most important decisions to make today.
Why you should care while choosing a security software
Here are some of the things that have changed in recent years as far as personal and small business security is concerned:
Increasing threats- malware, hacking and identity theft
Recent cybersecurity threat analysis data points to an alarming surge in the number of attacks targeting individuals and small businesses. Stories of ransomware and phishing have dominated news and cybersecurity airwaves in the recent past. For example, a 54% increase in personal and SME security attacks was reported by one of the major security firms in 2019. Yet another study revealed that over 60 million Us citizens had suffered some form of identity theft in the last two years. It’s fair to say that personal and small business security is not the same anymore in light of these trends.
Privacy violations and data collection on the rise
If you thought that deleting your photos on social media amounted to ensuring your privacy, think again. In the age of big data, every app out there is busy harvesting personal data from random people without their knowledge or permission. These blatant privacy violations have largely been ignored by regulators, gone undetected or been missed by platform owners. That next photo app or PC utility you download will most likely send your data to remote servers on the other side of the globe without your knowledge and at your cost (mobile data).
Mining apps and extensions
You’ve probably heard about cryptocurrency in your circles but never took much interest in it. However, there is a reason for you to care about it that is beyond the virtual coins or trading platforms. As Norton and other security firms have found in the past. There is a growing interest and ready market in the use of distributed computers for cryptocurrency mining. Essentially, crypto mining extensions installed on popular websites could be using your computer resources when you visit them. Of course, most of them wouldn’t bother disclosing that they are doing this.
So, it’s important to take some extra steps to protect yourself in this environment. You should choose the right security software at the top of your to-do list.
Read Also: How to protect yourself against DDoS attacks
Selection criteria while making a decision for choosing a security software
Use the following selection criteria while making a decision for choosing a security software:
1. Platform independence
Does the security software you are purchasing work across platforms? Can you install it on your computer and mobile devices? Does it work on Windows and Apple devices or have alternative downloads for each platform? These are some of the questions you need to use to inform your decision. In this day and age, you will still find security software such as antivirus that only works on one platform or doesn’t include packages for mobile devices.
As a rule of thumb, always use platform independence as a selection criterion when choosing a security software. Whether you are purchasing the security software for yourself or an organization. You will always find that you need it across devices that may not be on the same platform. For instance, you may find that you have people using android devices while others are on iOS in addition to using windows computers for work.
2. Transparency and trust
A somewhat annoying but very common trend in cybersecurity circles involves the use of closed systems that can’t be audited or verified by anyone. Consequently, you will often find security software that does not work as advertised, thus giving users an illusion of security. Other security packages may appear genuine but also use backdoor extensions to harvest user data and sell it to third-party advertisers.
As an example, one of the security software you may require to protect your identity and data is a VPN client. It has been a trend in the VPN market for a long time, that end users cannot verify if, indeed, a VPN service is protecting their data and online activity as advertised. With this in mind, finding a transparent VPN with a security audit is important. It should be part of your selection criteria.
3. Pricing model
Most security software may come with different levels of prices, depending on the features you require. For instance, you may find that one comes with a complete firewall utility consisting of internet filtering, IP blocking, website blocking, and other important services. Other security software packages will provide bare minimum protection at a base price, leaving you exposed to all manner of threats.
With the above in mind, use the pricing model as a criterion while choosing a security software. Ideally, you should always go for a package with a single price for every essential security service that includes base protection and scanning, internet security, and even password management. Avoid security software that breaks every protection module into a single product or addon priced separately.
4. Corporate or personal?
There is a world of difference between corporate or small business security software and personal security software. While they may be marketed as the same brand and product, there are numerous differences in features, pricing, deployment, and underlying technology. For example, a corporate security solution may be sold as a standalone hardware component installed in your server room. In contrast, personal software is exclusively sold as a downloadable software utility.
Intended use should be part of the criteria used to make security software purchase decisions. Generally, personal security software is cheaper and easier to deploy as compared to corporate security software. At the same time, corporate security software purchases may need more planning and assessment from your end.
5. Support and updates
How easy or convenient is it to get support from the security vendor when things go wrong? You can find out by downloading a trial version of their software and asking for help at some point before you make a purchase. Also, check out their reviews on Google My Business or Yelp to see what other customers are saying about them regarding support.
Additionally, you should go for a security software package that is frequently updated. Every day, new vulnerabilities and attack vectors are being discovered and used by cybercriminals. Only through frequent updates can you be assured of protection at all times.
The bottom line
There are so many security vendors and software packages out there for you to choose from. Some of them work as advertised while others could be useless or dangerous. Always go for security vendors you can trust and those that have a track record in the security industry.