Tips to Avoid Viruses
We have written this article providing tips on avoiding picking up viruses and malware on your computer. We hope this information will be helpful for you and you take up our recommendations on protecting your device from future infections. However, if you are unlucky and manage to obtain a stubborn virus or spyware do get a virus or spyware infection on your PC or laptop, we do offer a virus removal service, please give us a call at 3397 1215 or 0409 974 707.
Is Anyone Safe from a Malware Infection?
Even with the best protection and the most vigilant user, no device is ever 100% safe from malware infection. The main reason is that new malware is being written all the time. New malware software is written to try and bypasses anti-malware software. Then it does its main task of damaging your machine or stealing information.
The ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) provides some interesting statistics of internet usage and malware awareness and protection by age of Australian internet users. Given that 18 to 34-year-old Australians are more likely to use the internet than other age groups (source ACMA); we would expect that they are more likely to obtain some form of malware on their machines. This is even more expected when we look at their type of Internet usage. According to ACMA, young Australian adults aged 18 to 34 years are more likely to be users of social networking and internet banking than older Australian internet users.
Even more telling, concerning the likelihood of obtaining a malware infection, is that the youngest (and oldest) age groups were less likely to use protection again malware. It seems safe, therefore, to assume that younger Australian internet users are the population group in Australia most likely to end up with a malware infection. This is due to having such high usage of internet banking and social media plus are less likely to protect their computers.
How Can I Get a Virus?
There are many ways that your PC or Laptop can become infected with malware (commonly known as viruses or spyware):
- Accepting without reading. This occurs when you accept what you see on the screen without reading the prompt or understanding what it’s asking. Always be careful. This can happen when you are browsing the internet and a window appears that says that your machine is infected or that a new plug-in is needed – and you then accept the prompt.
- When installing or updating a program, you may be prompted to install additional programs (often the checkboxes are already checked!).
- Opening e-mail attachments. These attachments may even come from friends, family members or a co-worker. Sometimes email addresses are also faked. Watch out – when receiving an e-mail and attachment, if the e-mail was not expected or from someone you don’t know – delete it.
- Pirating software, music, or movies. This is a very common way of obtaining a malware infection on your computer. If you are participating in underground places on the net downloading copyrighted movies, music or files for free, often many of the files contain viruses or spyware.
- Downloading infected software. When downloading any software from the net this can also cause viruses and other malware infections. When downloading programs, utilities, games, updates, demos, etc., you need to make sure you’re downloading from a reliable source. Also, while installing the software, make sure you are reading all prompts carefully.
- Not running the latest updates. As mentioned before, you need to keep your anti-virus software up-to-date. Many updates, especially those associated with Microsoft Windows are security updates and you need to click onto the update to ensure you have the highest level of current protection for your machine.
- No antivirus spyware scanner. Again, as previously mentioned, you need to ensure your machine is protected as best it can. This includes having some form of antivirus and spyware protection to help clean the machine from current infections and prevent future infections.
How to Avoid Viruses
It is always important to pay attention to what your computer is asking you when you are using the internet. You should not just automatically click “OK” without double-checking. Many viruses are disguised as updates/codes. Updates should come through the notification area at the bottom right of your screen and not through a browser window, so be very careful when updating programs and downloading content.
Here are some tips on how to avoid picking up viruses and other forms of malware:
- Always remove your browser’s temporary files – do this once daily
- Perform daily scans as a virus or spyware can escape anti-virus programs.
- Some viruses which have attached to a drive automatically install themselves on any other media such as network drives, external hard disks and thumb drives – for this reason, we recommend that you disable the Windows autorun feature.
- Use a hardware-based firewall over a soft-ware based as these often result in problems when sharing printers and allowing users to access network resources.
- Ensure you always receive updates by setting Windows Update to automatically download patches and upgrades. Doing this allows your computer to download all updates to both Internet Explorer and Windows. These updates fix security problems and block many spyware programs and viruses. However, it should be noted that viruses sometimes piggyback onto trusted updates, this is more likely to be outdated updates. Therefore, it is necessary to keep your updates as current as possible.
- Many viruses work by attaching themselves to a drive and automatically installing themselves on any other media connected to the system. As a result, connecting any network drives, external hard disks, or even thumb drives to a system can result in the automatic propagation of such threats.
- You should deploy DNS protection – you may need a computer technician to implement the switch but once deployed this will protect your computer from any spyware and other web-based malware.
These tips may also be useful:
- Don’t visit and download from sites that distribute illegal software as these sites are known to contain viruses.
- Watch out for unknown codes – these enable a computer to play video or auto. A common way of obtaining a malware infection is caused by the unsuspecting user following the prompt to download a codec to obtain sound for a downloaded movie.
- Don’t download anything that says it is free – these are likely to be a virus. You could google it together with the word spam to determine whether it is malware.
- Regarding your emails – don’t click on an attachment or link unless you know the person sending you the email. If you are not sure about an email attachment/link, send a return email to check that you know the sender.
- Disable image previews is you are using an email-retrieving program as they can automatically load attachments which could be spam.
- Make sure that you have a good anti-virus program on your machine. Also, install an anti-spyware program as these can pick-up programs that the anti-virus program may overlook. We strongly recommend that you run your virus and spyware programs weekly.
- Be careful of emails coming from companies that you may do business with. Dodgy emails like this usually ask you for sensitive data such as bank account numbers. These emails mimic real companies but with close inspection of the business’ actual website, you can often spot the difference.
- Keep an eye on files with a double extension such as .txt.vb or.jpg.exe. Windows, as a default setting, often hides common file extensions. If this is the case, make the file extensions visible by selecting Folder Options in the Control Panel. It also may be under Appearance or Personalisation. Under the View tab, make sure that Hide Extensions for Known File Types is not selected.
- Be careful when allowing somebody to assist you remotely as if their computer is infected, it is likely to infect you too.
- Remember to back up regularly, this may save your work and valuable files should you get a particularly malicious virus on your machine.
Virus Removal at Affordable Computer Repairs and Service
There is always a chance of picking up a virus or spyware, no matter how careful you are. Should this happen, we can remove the virus for you for a fixed fee of $190. Contact us on 3397 1215 or 0409 974 707 and we are happy to help. We have a lot of experience in cleaning machines without the loss of customers’ valuable files and invaluable photos.
Article by Mark Kotorac, Owner of Affordable Computer Repairs and Service