Entertainment Security

7 Security Tips You Can Learn From the Avengers

Philip Bates 30-04-2018

The Avengers: Earth’s mightiest heroes. You can learn a lot from this team. Iron Man teaches us to recognize the consequences of our actions. The Vision shows that there is great humanity in all of us.


It’s time to consider what else these heroes can teach us—about technology, security, and privacy. (Minor spoilers for Marvel movies follow, but none for Infinity War.)

1. Research Is Important

The film: Steve Rogers has lived a long life, but he’s missed a lot too. At the start of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Sam Wilson advises the Super Soldier to listen to Marvin Gaye’s 1972 Trouble Man soundtrack: “Everything you missed, jammed into one album.”

Cap adds it to the list of things he needs to catch up on. Incidentally, this list is different, depending on which region you’re watching. Americans will see Steve Jobs and the Moon Landings included; UK viewers will be pleased to note the Beatles and the 1966 World Cup Final Goal! Explore Over 80 Years Of World Cup History With These 5 Sites For many, the history of the World Cup is littered with bitter disappointments, but if you want to indulge in over 80 years of the World Cup, there's never been a better time. Read More on there; while Tim Tams and Steve Irwin appear on the Australian version.

The reality: Your first line of defence is research. You need to keep updated with all the latest security and privacy threats.

This means being on-the-ball, for instance, when there’s a massive leak of Gmail credentials. Or about being aware of the ongoing iTunes gift card scam Don't Fall for This iTunes Gift Card Scam Police are warning people across America and Europe about a new scam that tricks you or your loved ones into buying Apple gift cards. How can you avoid it? And should you really be concerned? Read More .


However, it’s also important to know the very basic hacks that continue to plague us, albeit in different iterations of the same idea. Take sextortion for example Sextortion Has Evolved And It's Scarier Than Ever Sextortion is an abhorrent, prevalent blackmailing technique targeting young and old, and is now even more intimidating thanks to social networks like Facebook. What can you do to protect yourself from these seedy cybercriminals? Read More , which is when someone holds NSFW material of you to gain leverage and get you to do something you don’t want to do.

But it’s more life-changing than ever because cybercriminals have combined the technique with another common threat: ransomware. Traditional ransomware A History of Ransomware: Where It Started & Where It's Going Ransomware dates from the mid-2000s and like many computer security threats, originated from Russia and eastern Europe before evolving to become an increasingly potent threat. But what does the future hold for ransomware? Read More holds your device hostage, insisting you pay up or lose all your files. Combined with sextortion software, it further threatens to send your explicit photos or videos to family and friends directly via email or SMS.

2. Create Backups

The film: “Dormammu, I’ve come to bargain.”

When faced by something terrifying, Doctor Strange went in prepared. In the conclusion of his titular 2016 film, he knew the one way to battle evil was by backing himself up.


The reality: We hate to admit it, but Arnim Zola had it right too. A technological genius, he lived on as an intelligent computer programme after his body failed him. We don’t encourage you to Hail HYDRA, but still think you should be like Zola and create a backup.

These have many purposes—most crucial is their ability to render ransomware almost completely pointless. Taking a back up of your whole system on a regular basis means a scammer putting your PC into lockdown is moot. They can threaten your documents all they like because you have them held securely elsewhere. If you are unfortunate enough to encounter ransomware, we advise you seek a professional to transfer all your data back from your backup.

You do need to disconnect the additional storage device after backing up your personal files, though; otherwise, ransomware can infect that too.

This is one reason cybercriminals still use that type of malware. The other reason is merely that comparatively few people actually carry backups on a regular basis!


3. Encryption Isn’t Absolute

The film: The Sokovian Accords divided the Avengers in Captain America: Civil War (2016), but that gap was widened by the work of Helmut Zemo. Daniel Brühl’s character learned the secrets of Bucky Barnes by decrypting the SHIELD files leaked online—in doing so, he drew a wedge between Steve Rogers and Tony Stark.

The reality: Let’s not underestimate encryption. It’s vital. For data to be sent or held securely, it needs some level of encryption. But let’s not overestimate it either.

This is one of the big myths about encryption Don't Believe These 5 Myths About Encryption! Encryption sounds complex, but is far more straightforward than most think. Nonetheless, you might feel a little too in-the-dark to make use of encryption, so let's bust some encryption myths! Read More . Nothing is impregnable. You use encryption all the time; HTTPS is an everyday example. Smartphone passcodes scramble all the data on your device. And so it all hangs on how strong your encryption key (i.e. password) is.

Furthermore, encryption isn’t a defence against all cyberattacks. Ransomware is still 100 percent effective Why Encrypting Your Data Won't Protect You From Ransomware Encrypting your data will keep it safe from theft and unauthorized access. But when it comes to ransomware, your encrypted data is little more than a locked safe inside the scammer's locked safe. Read More . In fact, it uses encryption against you, by further encrypting your files. It can scramble your data once more, whether you’ve scrambled it before or not.


4. Limit What You Share

The film: Following SHIELD’s downfall in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the Black Widow dumped all its secret files on the web. Natasha had formerly hidden behind aliases and fake histories. Now, with all that information readily available, she has to work out who she really is.

The reality: The wealth of personal details we put online has been subject of analysis since the public learned that Facebook data was harvested Facebook Addresses the Cambridge Analytica Scandal Facebook has been embroiled in what has come to be known as the Cambridge Analytica scandal. After staying silent for a few days, Mark Zuckerberg has now addressed the issues raised. Read More for political gain by Cambridge Analytica. Everyone seems shocked to find out the social network was gaining from users’ information. But if you’ve been paying attention, this has been happening for years.

If you’re worried about your own privacy, you simply must limit the amount of data you put on the internet. That’s not confined solely to Facebook. It applies to all social media. Without the proper precautions in place, Twitter is a goldmine for fraudsters looking for private details. Instagram also knows a great deal 4 Ways Instagram Is Spying on You Right Now Since Facebook's acquisition of Instagram, some users have got suspicious. While it isn't a malicious social network, it's entirely believable that Instagram can be used to spy on you. Read More about you. Heck, all free services do!

5. Fight for Personal Freedoms

The film: Freedom lies at the heart of many superhero tales, but none more so than the Captain America films. Check out The Winter Soldier for a prime example of this. HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD and the helicarriers were primed to eliminate potential threats to mankind.

But the Sentinel of Liberty stopped them. He could see the importance of choice, even a choice between good and evil. He could also see the ambiguity between the two. Steve normally views things in black and white, but this time, the gray area was too great to ignore.

The reality: Our personal freedoms are permanently being infringed upon. Look at all the ways the NSA snoops on us Why Have Americans Given Up On Privacy? A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication concluded Americans are resigned to giving up data. Why is this, and does it affect more than just Americans? Read More .

The sad fact of life is, you can’t always do something about it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try.

It’s like the scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) where Tony asks how Steve and co. plan to defeat a seemingly-unstoppable foe. “Together,” Cap says. Tony cautions, “We’ll lose”. Cap’s reply? “Then we’ll do that together too.”

So make some noise. It’s better than rolling over and blindly accepting what’s coming. Working as a team can achieve great things. Enough uproar can even change government policy. This is the basis for groups like Anonymous 4 Top Hacker Groups And What They Want It's easy to think of hacker groups as some kind of romantic back-room revolutionaries. But who are they really? What do they stand for, and what attacks have they conducted in the past? Read More , fighting for the privacies of peoples worldwide.

6. Don’t Underestimate the Little Guy

The film: Ant Man (2015) was a surprise hit. Except it wasn’t much of a surprise for long-term Marvel fans who know the character is fantastic. No, it was a surprise for the cinema-going public who thought a movie about a guy who could shrink would be naff. It proved the hero could be just as effective as any other Avenger.

The reality: The message here is not to solely anticipate the big-scale attacks like Thor wielding Mjolnir or Hulk flinging a car at your face. You have to prepare for the smaller threats too by putting into effect basic security measures.

You do this already—at least, we hope you do! If you don’t fall for emails from Nigerian princes with money to give away, you’re on the right step. Confidence in spotting fraudulent activity comes with experience, of course. Some emails scream “fake” How to Spot 7 Online Fakes Used by Scammers You can't trust everything you see online. Here are seven commonly faked elements online and some advice for identifying them. Read More , whereas others are increasingly sophisticated.

Again, research will help you in spotting the difference between what’s real and what will compromise your data.

You need to find security software you can trust 4 Things to Consider When Buying a Security Suite McAfee, Kaspersky, Avast, Norton, Panda - all big names in online security. But how do you decide which to choose? Here are some questions you need to ask yourself when purchasing anti-virus software. Read More too. It’s a very basic thing to do; however, some rely solely on Windows Defender or figure installing a virtual private network The Best VPN Services We've compiled a list of what we consider to be the best Virtual Private Network (VPN) service providers, grouped by premium, free, and torrent-friendly. Read More (VPN) will be just as useful as an anti-virus. But this simply isn’t the case.

7. Share, Share, Share!

The film: For much of Wakanda’s past, its technological advances were kept strictly for the benefit of its own citizens. It was only in Black Panther (2018) that T’Challa, the new King of the African nation, realized that you can’t blindly follow in the footsteps of your ancestors. He decided to help the world, breaking generations of tradition.

Tony Stark eventually decided to share his technology as well. It admittedly took some coercion, but for Iron Man 2 (2010), his friend, James Rhodes became War Machine. Peter Parker got an upgrade ready for Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017). Plus, the Avengers regularly benefit from Stark’s advances, namely in their facilities in New York.

The reality: Users should benefit from developers, and the tech-savvy should help fortify other users’ systems.

What does this mean? It’s all about upgrades. This was a major factor in our assessments of the most secure mobile operating systems What Is The Most Secure Mobile Operating System? Battling for the title of Most Secure Mobile OS, we have: Android, BlackBerry, Ubuntu, Windows Phone, and iOS. Which operating system is the best at holding its own against online attacks? Read More (OS) and subsequently of the most secure browser What Is the Most Secure Mainstream Browser? The battle for the best desktop browser will never be settled. But which is the most secure? All boast having superior protection -- but in 2017, which is the browser of choice for the security-... Read More . It’s not solely about exploitations; the vital thing is how quickly developers issue patches for vulnerabilities.

For instance, Google Chrome sends out fixes in good time once a problem is discovered. Sadly 50 percent of users don’t update, but it’s easy: click on the vertical ellipsis, then Help > About Google Chrome. Finishing the process just requires a relaunch.

As for how users can help each other: spread the news about an exploitation and tell others when it’s important to accept an update. We all get lazy when iOS informs us a new version is available. Sometimes, it’s needed.

Then of course, there’s open-source software, notably Linux. The code is accessible, so you can check there’s nothing malicious going on. It also means individuals can contribute to the whole. It’s that sort of admirable teamwork that’s the foundation of the Avengers.


We can’t all save the universe from a major threat like Thanos. But there remains plenty of good we can do for each other—even if that’s ensuring the internet is a safe environment.

Just because you’ve not been bitten by a radioactive spider or can summon the power of Odin, that doesn’t mean you can’t fashion yourself into something Marvellous 10 DIY Props to Make You into a Superhero Like many boys and girls, I spent a bit of time -- probably too much! -- wanting to be a superhero, protecting people from the bad guys and generally saving the day with my awesome... Read More .

Related topics: Online Privacy, Online Security.

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