7 Tips on How to Prevent Computer Viruses

We see lots of viruses come through our shop.  While we are happy to help our clients with their virus removal needs, we also try to educate our clients on how to avoid viruses in the first place.  Below are 7 simple tips to avoid getting viruses on your computer. It’s important to note the difference between viruses and malware.

A virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer.  Viruses can be transmitted through internal networks, the internet or through a usb drive.  Here at the shop, we have encountered jobs where the virus was hiding in a client’s external usb drive the whole time.  As soon as they get their clean computer home, they get the virus again.

Malware is programming that is intended to disrupt or deny operation, gather information or gain access to system resources.  Many anti-virus programs do not have the ability to detect and remove malware. So here’s the list:

  1. Keep your computer up to date:  We encourage our clients to enable automatic updates on their Windows computers in addition to running updates for programs such as Adobe and Java.  Many of these updates include security patches that will fill security holes in the Windows system.  We know that updates are a bit of a pain. We understand the inconvenience.  Just remember that it’s even more inconvenient to get a virus on your computer. Before you allow any updates, ensure that you are on a secured connection and not at a coffee shop for instance.
  2. Don’t use Internet Explorer:  We live in an exciting time.  We have so many browsers to choose from.  Whether you prefer Chrome, Firefox or Opera, they will all be safer than Internet Explorer.  While the newer versions of Internet Explorer are an improvement over the past versions, they are still a far cry from the quality of Chrome or Firefox.
  3. Back up your computer:  This should be obvious, but it’s not obvious to everyone.  If you have a quality backup strategy, a virus will not be as much of a problem for you.  There are times when a virus removal will cause damage to the operating system.  At these times, we might suggest a re-install of the operating system.  If you have your data backed up, it makes the process quicker and more affordable.
  4. Anti-virus basics:  It’s important to have a quality anti-virus installed on your Windows computer.  While a good anti-virus is important, having more than one is a very bad idea.  Anti-virus applications are only effective when they have up-to-date definitions of what a virus is.  For this reason, be sure your anti-virus program updates automatically and at a reasonable time (not 3am on Wednesday nights…. not likely that your computer will be turned on during that time).
  5. Avoid suspicious web sites:  There are over a trillion web pages out there right now.  We spend lots of time ‘researching’ information on the web.  Be careful.  Sometimes it’s impossible to know whether a photo will contain malicious content.  Be sure to notice the url of the web site.  For example: microsoft.tisur.com is not microsoft.com.
  6. Always scan email attachments:  Some people send viruses to their friends and not even know that they did it.  At Altitude Integrations, we encounter many situations where our clients have had their email accounts hacked.  Once hacked, the hacker will sometimes use that account to send malicious content to the entire address book list.
  7. Use a malware scanner:  Malware scanners are different than anti-virus programs.  Many of these applications are free to use.  Just like anti-virus, it’s recommended that you schedule the scans to happen weekly.

We love to help our clients when they are in trouble.  We also love to educate our clients on how they can stay out of trouble in the first place.  Every day, there are more viruses that are released into the wild.  While it’s impossible to have a perfect virus protection strategy, the tips detailed above will help to minimize infection and increase the quality of your life.

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