VIRUSES! How come we never hear about them outside of big hacks? Is it because they only happen to businesses now? It is because our home laptops are super advanced and protect us? Is it because we have them and don’t know? Do Linux boxes even get viruses?

Don’t worry, we’ll fill you in on the latest in antivirus protection in 2021.

Computer viruses in 2021

Firstly, yes viruses are still a thing in 2021 for home computing, although you may now know them by other names: malware, phishing, ransomware… Much as the namespace for ‘viruses’ has diversified, so too has the software we need to protect ourselves from such things. 

The Linux situation

Just because you’re running Linux on your home setup doesn’t mean that you’re immune from viruses. Have you ever just used the curl command without thinking? All of us have. 

Now, sure, the number of personal computers in the world running Linux OSs is minuscule as compared to those running Windows or even MacOS. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a target. A smaller target, sure, but a target nonetheless. And hey, if you can go cross-platform that means the bad guys can too.

What online activities are you getting into?

The chances of you coming across something nasty depend on the types of activities you do online. Here are some of the more common ones and how the bad guys get through.

1. Email

Here, the threat is in website links and attachments. Always confirming your sender is who you think they are is important to avoid incidents.

2. Websites

Websites that have forms and ask for any information are the ones you need to worry about. Think through what you are inputting and whether you trust the website with your personal information, particularly if you are inputting financial details.

3. Streaming

While you can be pretty sure that you’re safe when you’re streaming video from Netflix, if it’s from a dodgy ‘free’ movie or TV site, you need to be a bit more careful. Neverending popups might not be damaging to your computer but they can be annoying.

4. Downloading

Again, trust plays a big part in what you are downloading. If it’s from a known and reputable source, you can probably trust that a file you download doesn’t have a virus hiding inside. Make sure to do your research especially before downloading any apps or (especially) torrenting.

Your home cybersecurity stack

In business, it’s all about the cybersecurity stack. Now, just because you’re not a business doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t layer your home computer security.

Protecting yourself at different layers should absolutely be a priority.

1. An antivirus

The number one home antivirus for Linux systems currently is still ClamAV. You may also like to try other solutions like SophosAV. There’s even a new Windows Defender product available for Linux systems, Microsoft Defender for Endpoint for Linux, which may be an option if you’re running a home network with both Windows and Linux devices.

2. Browser add ons

Adding extras to your browser to protect you while you’re on the web is one of the best ways to guard against browser-based threats. The Brave Browser does a pretty good job of it solo, but you should get add-ons such as Decentraleyes, Badger, and uBlock.

3. Email client

Using a known web-based email service that performs complex filtering to stop the bad stuff coming through, such as Gmail, helps protect you from email threats. Paid extra services are only ever really necessary for businesses.

4. VPN

Get a reputable paid VPN and just use it. They aren’t just useful for accessing region-locked content like gambling where you can engage in your hobby anonymously, they are good for obfuscating your IP when you forget on public networks and shady sites.

5. Home networks and IoT

As our home networks expand, due in no small part to the use of a plethora of IoT devices in the home, so too does the security risk. Network-connected IoT devices present a new vulnerability for threats to infiltrate our systems. These devices often are built cheaply, which means that security might not even be part of the design. The best current solution is to set up a separate VLAN for all your IoT devices, or separate VLANs depending on the trust levels of your devices.

The bottom line

While Linux systems are less of a target than Windows or Macs, that’s not to say that you don’t need protection online. Treat your home (and remote) setup like you would your house. You’d lock your passport away in a drawer, lock the front door, have a home alarm, and insurance. Layer your home cybersecurity stack in the same way, and don’t forget those cloud or hardware file and system backups in the case of emergencies – your home data insurance policy if you will.

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