How To Avoid Computer Viruses
How do you learn how to avoid computer viruses when there are so many of them circulating these days? Since new viruses, worms, and trojans are being written every day, it is difficult for any computer user to skip through life without ever picking up a virus. However, there are a number of things you can do to avoid computer viruses:
- First and foremost, have a good anti-virus program installed, and make sure it is updated regularly. Even the best anti-virus programs can't stop a computer virus that isn't in its database.
- A good anti-spyware program is a companion to your anti-virus. It can pick up trojans and worms that your anti-virus can't detect. Spyware programs can keep track of and report your activities, allow hackers to get your personal information, or even turn your computer into a remotely activated hacking machine.
- Don't download anything unless you know what it is. It doesn't even matter if you know who it's coming from, because your best friend's account may have been hacked for the very purpose of sending out nasty computer viruses. Most anti-virus programs have email scanners. Make sure yours is updated and enabled.
- Don't open a file off of someone else's disk without scanning it first with your anti-virus program. The same thing goes for file or music sharing sites.
- Don't let your email program automatically launch anything. The safest option is probably to just read your mail online before bringing anything home to your system. Most online mail programs have built-in anti-virus programs, so you are less likely to stumble onto computer viruses opening your mail online.
- Be extra careful with attachments. This is where a lot of computer viruses hide. Pay close attention to anything you are thinking of opening on your system and be safe rather than sorry. Check out the name of the file. Scan it to be sure.
- Don't have your computer set to auto launch anything. Not cookies, web pages, or updates. Go through the minor inconvenience of telling your computer on a case by case basis what you want launched.
- Despite the automatic launch caution, do make sure to keep your operating system up to date. Many times you can be prevented from an infection by downloading security updates from your operating system provider. Many computer viruses are aimed at a particular operating system, which is why the maker of the operating system attempts to keep you up to date with patches and security features. Sadly, these usually are written after an exploit is discovered, but it still could protect you from future ones.
- Use your firewall, both the software version in your operating system and the hardware version in your router. This keeps unauthorized users out of your system, and alerts you if someone tries to worm their way in to your computer.
- If a warning box pops up telling you that you have been infected with spyware or a virus, be very careful about clicking on it. Make sure it is legitimate from your installed programs. These false computer virus messages look very much like a Windows security warning but can be something called "scareware." It has many different names but the object is to get you to pay for a program to get rid of fake infections at best, and at worst, clicking on the button could actually install bad programs. These popup warnings are very hard to close down and may disable cause all sorts of havoc in your computer. If you get one and have trouble getting out of it by hitting the "x" key, hit control-alt-delete and use task manager to shut down all of your browser windows. Then reboot your computer.
By using all these tools and best practices, you should be able to avoid computer viruses. If, however, you get infected with one, the tools that you have in place in terms of your anti-virus and anti-spyware software should help you remove the virus with a minimum of trouble.