A Feeling of Complacency
The amount of hype coming out of the Microsoft camp concerning Windows 8’s enhanced security features is pretty high. With an improved Windows Defender integrated into the upcoming operating system, some users may feel that they will have adequate protection against malware and other threats. While the improved protection is a plus, this does not mean that other trusted programs should be avoided, as it is somewhat lazy to believe that Microsoft’s integrated protection in Windows 8 will provide all the security that is necessary.
Careless Web Surfing
The internet offers an endless stream of useful content. Unfortunately, there’s plenty of bad, malware-ridden content as well. Malware authors know which topics are hot and often manage ways to sneak malicious sites into optimal Google rankings. A web surfer may think they are visiting a good site due to its search engine placement, but the exact opposite may be true. Clicking random links, visiting malicious sites, and similar web surfing practices are a recipe for disaster. Windows 8 may come with enhanced security features, but it will only be able to do so much to keep its users safe. Common sense when browsing goes a long way and it could mean the difference between a clean PC and an infected one.
Browsing with Internet Explorer
Internet Explorer is the browser of choice for many Windows users, even with the availability of alternatives such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. The widespread use of Internet Explorer also makes it a target of choice for hackers. Microsoft has instituted various fixes to help prevent security problems in the past with Internet Explorer, and it promises much of the same when Windows 8 is released. Still, the browser has had its share of problems, so it has to make you wonder if the future will be any different.
Emails have been and will continue to be a hotbed of security issues. It doesn’t take much effort for spammers to send out email messages in the masses, and many times the links contained in emails lead to malicious sites. Compromised accounts are another problem that seems to be gaining in popularity. You may receive an email from a legitimate contact, but it could lead you to a website filled with malware after clicking a link. Your friend may not know they sent such an email since their account was hacked, and the fact that it came from a trusted sender led you to carelessly click the link. All of this could lead to an infected PC. Luckily, Microsoft announced that it should institute improved email protection when Windows 8 rolls around, but the effectiveness of any improvements remains to be seen. Once again, it’s up to the user to exercise common sense, as Microsoft can only do so much.
As the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites grows, so does the appeal to cybercriminals to use such networks as avenues for attacks. Sure, the social networks do not have direct affiliations with Microsoft and aren’t exactly its responsibility, but the sheer fact that so many Windows 8 users will log on to their accounts on a frequent basis poses a real threat to their PCs. All it takes is a simple click on a malicious link and its subsequent actions and you can have a nasty virus that’s difficult to get rid of. Over time, users will likely catch on to many malicious social networking scams, but those behind the scams will continue to tweak their efforts as well.
The Adobe Flash platform is useful when it comes to viewing content online in the form of applications, videos, and more, but it also brings the potential for security problems. Flash is currently an issue for Windows users when it comes to security, and such issues have been cited by the late Steve Jobs as a reason why Apple decided to not support the platform on its iOS mobile operating system.
The Apps Marketplace
One of the welcome features in Microsoft’s upcoming operating system is the rollout of an applications marketplace. Such a move seems like a logical one, especially with the growing presence and use of apps among tech users. While a large selection of apps will certainly give Windows 8 users the ability to expand their computer’s functionality, it also opens up the door for potential security issues. Simply put, apps may not be on the same high level of security as Windows 8, and cybercriminals could see it as an opportunity for attack.
Cybercriminals love to focus on popular devices and trends, as it means more of a return on their investment of time and money. With that being said, the growing popularity of tablets has likely opened the eyes of hackers. It should be interesting to see how any Windows 8 tablets hold up against potential attacks.