How to protect yourself from computer viruses

How To Protect Yourself From Computer Viruses and Spyware

Simple techniques that you can use to protect your computer from viruses and other malicious online threats

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Your computer may be secretly harboring many potential threats to your data and personal information. New virus threats are discovered on a daily basis. And those threats are targeting every computer operating system, from all versions of Microsoft Windows to the Mac OS X operating system. Smart phone users are also being highly targeted as well with ransomware, spyware and other malicious programs. Smart phone sales have actually outpaced personal computer sales for the past two years. And without a doubt malware that targets those smart phones will continue to increase at a rapid rate as well.

Personal computers can get compromised by viruses through an act as simple as visiting a compromised website. Depending on the your operating system, it's update status, and also the additional software that you have installed on your computer, your chances of becoming infected with malicious programs may be elevated. During visits to malicious or secretly compromised websites, once the web page begins to load, malicious programs may also be downloaded with the website content through drive by installs. Computers may also be infected by the execution of questionable files or the opening of infected e-mail attachments.

Some users believe that if they utilize Apple Macintosh products instead of Microsoft Windows operating systems, they'll be immune to online virus threats. Unfortunately that's just not the case. The Flashback virus of 2012 proved that unsuspecting Mac users could get infected with a virus just like a Microsoft Windows users could. That one virus compromised over 600,000 Macs and unfortunately it's still out there floating around. The Microsoft Windows operating system has been hit by an enormously larger amount of viruses, when compared to Macs, primarily because of it’s larger market share. It's hard to measure the ratio accurately, but by most estimates Microsoft Windows is in use by over 80% of computer users, Macs represent anywhere from 6% to 10% and the Linux operating system is in use on the remaining percentage of computers. With such a large amount of users with Microsoft Windows installed on their computers, it's normal that they would be the primary target of virus and malware writers. The wolves always go to where the meat is.

With computer data, just like other things in life, you should "Hope for The Best, But Prepare for The Worst". If the best happens, it's great! But on the other hand, if the worst happens, you're ready and prepared for it.

How to protect yourself from viruses and spyware

  1. The area to focus on before anything else involves backing up your important computer data. You should always maintain verified backups of your important personal and business data at all times. Your should perform data backups often, especially when your data has changed significantly. It's just like car insurance. When you're uninsured, things always seem to happen. And no, it's not just your luck. Bad things happen to us all.
  1. Install a good anti-virus, such as Avast. Utilizing a dependable anti-virus utility will help you avoid questionable files and website content.
  2. Install a dependable firewall, such as ZoneAlarm with application control. Viruses are software programs that have a specific purpose. And just like legitimate programs, viruses create processes that can be prevented from starting, controlled and also terminated. It's harder to get bit by mosquitos when you're catching them before they get a chance to bite you.
  3. Make sure that you perform routine operating system and application software updates. One of the primary reasons that many computers become infected with viruses, is in the fact that they haven't been properly updated. And it is true that those updates may not stop many of the zero day exploits, but every little bit helps in preventing possible infections.
  4. Update, disable or flat out uninstall the Java Runtime Environment from your computer if you don't really need it. Oracle has been releasing Java updates rapidly here lately, because the Java Runtime Environment is full of security holes just waiting to be exploited.
  5. Don't open or even preview messages from unsolicited sources. If you don't know the sender, the mail should be deleted. And also be very careful opening unexpected email attachments. One of your friends or coworkers may have an infected computer. And you could be receiving messages from one of those systems, with a hidden computer virus that is sending messages to every contact in the user's contact list.
  6. Be careful with the websites that you visit. File sharing and video streaming sites are sometimes loaded with links to malicious files and advertisements. And remember, you don't have to click on a malicious pop up advertisement to get infected by a virus.
  7. Avoid clicking on security warnings while you're online. Fake anti-virus programs are unintentionally installed often by users accidentally or intentionally clicking on the bogus security warnings that are displayed on compromised websites. Once the fake security warnings are clicked, malicious programs may be installed on your computer without your permission or any further input by you.
  8. If you notice any strange behavior with your computer, such as new pop ups showing up constantly while you're online, strange search results or possibly sudden computer slowness, then check your system with a good anti-virus for possible security threats.

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