Defend Yourself from Computer Bugs and Viruses

Most of the computer problems I encounter are in some way related to malware and viruses. With news of a very nasty new virus that actually ransoms your own files I wanted to review some basic steps to help avoid problems.

Here are some steps to remember to avoid getting viruses and other malware:

Don’t download files from or visit gambling sites, porn sites or sites that host pirated files like IsoHunt or The Pirate Bay. These sites often try to run programs on your computer that can severely compromise your computer. Plus, pirated software often includes viruses within the file that can kill your system.

Don’t trust pop-ups. Vague warnings that “you may have a virus” are never valid. Only trust virus reports from your antivirus software. When odd or vague pop-ups do occur, click on the “x”, usually in the upper right, rather than any button like “OK” or even “cancel”.

don't ever trust a generic warning about viruses

don’t ever trust a generic warning about viruses

Be cautious when installing software. Even legitimate file download sites like CNet try to install toolbars and adware in order to pay for the “free” files you’re getting. Make sure you’re downloading the software you want to as well, because there may be multiple “download” buttons on your screen with some that link to other files you don’t want.

Be sure to read what you’re doing before you install anything. If there is an option for a “custom” install versus an “express” install, always choose “custom” as this will show you any other software that might be installed and give you the opportunity to prevent it from installing.

some freeware like YTD Video Downloader will try to install stuff you don't want

some freeware like YTD Video Downloader will try to install stuff you don’t want – click “Decline”!

Watch your email. If you get a vague email, even from a friend, delete it. If it’s from a friend email them back and ask if they sent it. Also be cautious when subscribing to email lists from companies, as subscribing to one can mean subscribing to a dozen.

Keep your programs updated, as vulnerability fixes are constantly being rolled out for programs like Java, Flash and Windows. Also keep your browser updated to the latest version available.

Most importantly, make sure you have proper safeguards in place. Turn on your Windows internal firewall if it isn’t already. You need one good antivirus program like AVG, Norton, or Bitdefender. Avoid the temptation to install more than one, as doing so can grind your system to a halt. You also need at least one good antimalware program such as Malwarebytes or AdwCleaner to catch the stuff that the antivirus programs miss. You can have more than one antimalware program, and as some are better at catching certain types than others it’s not a bad idea to have a few in your arsenal. Make sure to keep your programs updated and run them at least monthly.

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Posted on October 26, 2013, in How To, Microsoft Windows, software and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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