10 Steps to Avoid Viruses & Malware

  1.  Install Anti-Virus Software – This should not even have to be listed because if you don’t have any anti-virus software installed, you’re asking for trouble! If your reason for not installing anti-virus software is because it’s too expensive, then that can reason can be shot down because there are several free anti-virus programs out there that are considered better than commercial software packages. Here are two of the most popular ones:
  2. Update All Software – Installing an anti-virus program by itself is not enough. There are hundreds of new threats that are found daily and the anti-virus programs release updates regularly to combat these new threats. Make sure you anti-virus program is set to update automatically so that you don’t have to rely on your memory to do it. Also, this goes for all the software on your computer. The most important software to keep up to date is your Windows operating system. It is essential to have Automatic Updates turned on and set to download and install updates automatically.
  3. Install only Trusted Software – If you’re not sure what a piece of software does from its name, then don’t install it. Also, don’t install anything you didn’t intend to install in the first place. Sometimes programs will ask you to install other programs during the install of the original application. Be careful of that because it’s usually spyware. If you’re installing software from big names sites like Microsoft or Adobe, you’re good. For anything else, you should first get it scanned. The easiest way to do this is to use an online tool like VirusTotal, which lets you upload a file for scanning or lets you enter the URL you want checked.
  4. Install only Trusted Software – If you’re not sure what a piece of software does from its name, then don’t install it. Also, don’t install anything you didn’t intend to install in the first place. Sometimes programs will ask you to install other programs during the install of the original application. Be careful of that because it’s usually spyware. If you’re installing software from big names sites like Microsoft or Adobe, you’re good. For anything else, you should first get it scanned. The easiest way to do this is to use an online tool like VirusTotal, which lets you upload a file for scanning or lets you enter the URL you want checked.
  5. Delete Unknown Emails – If you receive emails from random people, do not bother to open the email, just delete it. If you have any doubts after reading the name and the subject, it’s probably not someone you know. Never download or open attachments unless you are sure it’s from someone you know. Give the person a call quickly and ask them if you’re not sure. Most large companies that you create online accounts with will not send you attachments unless you specifically ask for them through their web site. Also, be wary of any emails from sites pretending to be banks, auction sites, etc asking for you to verify bank account info or address info. No bank ever does that.Also, hackers try to prey on your emotions. If something sounds too good to be true, i.e. you won some money or free vacation, it probably is. Secondly, if you get any email from the Inland Revenue or police or a Solicitor/Lawyer or anyone else trying to scare you, don’t panic and start giving out information. These are all usually scams because no official agency emails people about serious issues.
  6. Do not click on Ads – Avoid clicking on ads if you can. Especially those ads where something is flying around and if you shoot the duck, you win some prize! Ads have become more sophisticated in that they try to make the ad interactive so that you’ll be tempted to play it like a game. Install Adblocking Software to your browser. A Popular one is Adblock Pro.
  7. Be careful what you attach to your computer – This is a more common way to transfer viruses than you might think. Everyone now has a USB flash stick that they carry around on their key chains, ready to snap into any computer. But who knows what viruses are on your friends computers and what accidentally got transferred to their USB stick. A lot of virus programs will auto launch right when the USB stick is put into the computer, so you don’t even have to open or download any of the files to be infected.
  8. Be careful what you attach to your computer – This is a more common way to transfer viruses than you might think. Everyone now has a USB flash stick that they carry around on their key chains, ready to snap into any computer. But who knows what viruses are on your friends computers and what accidentally got transferred to their USB stick. A lot of virus programs will auto launch right when the USB stick is put into the computer, so you don’t even have to open or download any of the files to be infected.
  9. Avoid Shady Web Sites – If you need to look at porn, then make sure you do it in a virtual environment. You are DEFINITELY going to get a virus or spyware if you browse porn sites on your computer. Virtualization basically allows you to run programs like Internet Explorer in a virtual environment that does not effect your current operating system. If you want to find out more, search for “Virtual PC” or “VM Ware” in Google. Otherwise, simply avoid going to shady web sites!
  10. Turn On or Install a Firewall – If you’re running Windows or Mac, make sure firewall is turned on. A firewall prevents hackers from gaining access to your computer by limiting the number of ports that are open to the public. Also, when buying a wireless router, make sure it has a built in firewall. Having a software and hardware firewall is better than just having one or the other.

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