How To Protect Yourself From Computer Viruses and Malware
By Chloe Weston
Protecting you data from hackers and other online criminals has never been more important. Every day new viruses are created, many of them have the goal of accessing your personal information to use in unscrupulous ways.
A computer virus is a software program that is designed to enter your computer and delete files, folders and other data while causing havoc with your operating system. Malware is a form of virus that enters your computer without your consent and causes problems with your files or operating system. Spyware is another type of computer virus which is designed to obtain information from your computer without your knowledge or consent.
Fortunately, it’s possible to protect your data with diligent planning and practice. Here are some tips for preventing computer viruses, malware and spyware from entering your computer.
Be Careful When Surfing the Internet.
When you’re online, be careful about which files and programs you download. Avoid pop-ups and free downloads as many of these are coupled with viruses. Gaming and social sites are a common hangout for viruses. If you’re not sure about the safety of a given site, you’re better off to avoid it.
Don’t Open Email Attachments of Unknown Origin.
Another very common place to pick up a virus is email attachments. If you don’t know the person who sent you the email, don’t open the attachment. While not every attachment that comes unsolicited is malicious, you’re better off to be safe rather than sorry.
Make Sure You Have Anti-Spyware and Anti-Malware Programs Installed and Updated.
Good quality anti-spyware and anti-malware programs are worth the expense, however, there are also free versions available which can work just as well. Make sure you have some form of protection from spyware and malware and make sure you update them as often as necessary.
Install a Firewall to Protect Your Computer From Unauthorized Access.
A firewall prevents anyone from hacking into your computer and stealing personal information or causing other problems. Make sure you have a firewall installed and that it is operating properly.
Scan Flash Drives and External Drives Before Opening Them.
Always make sure you scan any kind of external drive for viruses before you open them. Also scan CDs and DVDs before you download any of the information contained on them.
If your system seems to be running more slowly than usual, files go missing, or your computer seems to act in uncharacteristic ways, take some time to run a virus scan and see if you can determine a cause. Most often these problems are caused by some form of malware.
In addition, you should do your best to stay informed of the latest virus and security alerts. There are several internet sites such as Microsoft.com and cert.org that publish virus information, security alerts and security patches for your computer.
Don’t Use More Than One Anti-Virus Program at a Time.
You don’t need more than one anti-virus program at a time and trying to run two or more will cause a conflict and interfere with the operation of your computer.
Don’t Click on Suspicious Looking Desktop Icons.
Clicking desktop icons that you don’t recognize can activate a virus on your computer. If you see an icon that seems suspicious, run a full virus, spyware and malware scan.
Once You’ve Contracted a Virus Stop Using Your Computer Until It’s Cleared.
Sometimes when your computer has contracted a virus there’s a temptation to keep trying to use your computer or keep clicking different things to try to get rid of the virus. If your computer is infected and you can’t access your anti-virus program, shut your computer down and get a computer professional to help clean up the virus. The more you try to use the computer the more the virus becomes embedded in your system.
Never Download an Executable File Unless You Know What It Is.
Downloading programs that are automatically executable (that is, files that have an.exc file extension) is a very common way to pick up a virus. Make sure you know exactly what it is you’re downloading and avoid anything that looks suspicious.
When it comes to protecting your critical data against computer viruses, spyware and malware, the best defense is prevention and awareness. Unfortunately new security threats present themselves every day and adhering to safe internet practices to protect your computer with the latest in anti-virus protection is the only way to avoid costly and frustrating virus and malware problems with your computer.
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