Computer Virus Safety Guide with Basic Tips and Tricks

This Guide with Computer virus safety tips should help with keeping your system safe most of the time

Computer virus safety

Computer viruses affect millions of people’s systems annually. These viruses can cause serious harm to the hard drive of a computer and, in some cases, render the computer useless.

Most cases of computer viruses come from downloading software that is not safe and verified as secure.

First step to computer virus safety is to avoid click on ads that lead to malicious software or download and run games or applications that have viruses contained within them.

They can also be spread through emails that may have attachments sent from an UN trusted source. Once the attachment is opened, the bug begins hitting the system immediately and harming the files.

A threat can shut your computer down permanently, hack into your hard drive and take data, or just make everything run much more slowly and with more difficulty. Maintaining and using computer virus safety tips can help extend the life of your system and ensure that most private information stays secure and safe.

Most virus prevention software is easy to install and runs silently in the background, alerting you of potential dangers and deleting any files that can harm the system.

There are other things you can do as well to ensure that computer virus safety is enabled on your system so as to stay safe and secure.

Categories of threats that could harm your computer

Malware

These are software designed to infiltrate or damage a system without your consent. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, spyware, and more.

It can be present on websites and emails or hidden in downloadable files, photos, videos, freeware or shareware. (However, it should be noted that most websites, shareware or freeware applications do not come with malware.)  do periodic scans for spyware, and avoid clicking on suspicious email links or websites.

The best way to avoid getting infected is to run a good anti-V protection program

But scammers are sneaky: sometimes malware is cleverly disguised as an email from a friend, or a useful website. Even the most cautious of web-surfers will likely pick up an infection at some point.

Virus:  These are malware programs that can reproduce by itself and infect other computers.

Spyware:

It surreptitiously monitors and collects information about you, your computer and/or your browsing habits without your consent – usually for advertising purposes. It can also gather info from your address book, and even your passwords and credit card numbers.

Unlike viruses and worms, spyware does not usually self-replicate.

Scare ware:

You’re surfing the net and suddenly an official-looking screen pops up warning you there is a problem on your system, such as:

Your computer may be infected with harmful spyware programs. Immediate removal is required.

To scan, click ‘Yes'”. You’re not sure if it’s real or not, so what do you do? Be careful, this might be scare ware. If there’s any doubt, you can close your browser immediately. This will prevent any scare ware from loading.

Tips and guides on computer virus safety

 

These simple guides and tips can easily make your system bugs Free and Your Data Safe!

Install Operating System Security Updates

No matter what operating system you use, it has flaws/bugs/issues/etc. because it was written by a human and humans are far from perfect.  So, as new bugs are found and patches for those updates are released.

it’s critical you make sure your system is protected by installing the latest security updates from Microsoft or any other OS provider (Apple, Linux etc…) you may be using.

If you’re an Apple user I can see your smirk from here because you think MAC don’t have any security issues right?  Think again and be smart in finding a computer virus safety today!

Install Application Security Updates

Similarly, the software you install on your system is flawed the moment it’s written which means the day you install it is the day your system is that much less secure.

To make things worse, small software companies don’t have the massive security budgets larger corporations have like Microsoft and Apple, so it’s not uncommon for “security” to be left out entirely.

The bad guys (hackers) know this so rather than try to break Microsoft, many are targeting the software on your system.  Fortunately for the hacker; to make their job even easier, they can count on a few pieces of software install on just about every system out there.

For computer virus safety; make sure you’re running the latest versions of software on your system and verify at least monthly you’re running the latest security updates as well.

This is not easy if the software doesn’t have auto-update features but… that’s still a massive attack surface that needs to be kept clean.  I know… This is a tough one, and it will take a lot of work.

 Install a quality Anti-Virus Application

With so many high-quality free anti-virus applications available for most operating systems, you have no excuse to be running with no Anti-V software. Keep things simple and use Microsoft’s free Anti-V client.

If you’re not a Microsoft Windows user, search for varieties of anti-V that works for the Mac.  By running AV software, it ensures computer virus safety and you’re not just protecting yourself but you’re also protecting the community.

Keep your Anti-V App. updated with the latest virus signatures/definitions

New Viruses/malicious software is created and spread around the internet daily. To combat this, Anti-V (AV) companies update their software so they can detect and block (hopefully) the malicious software from infecting your system.

AV companies call these updates either “Signatures” or “Definitions” depending on which product you use.

In the past, it was OK to update your computer once a week or once a month with these new AV definitions.

However, in today’s climate, you really should have your AV application set to update daily or hourly if possible to protect your system from the latest threats.

Now in the case of Microsoft Security Essentials, there is no way to configure it to pull down new updates every hour (unless you want to get fancy with a batch script and manually pull down updates which I wouldn’t recommend)however I’ve noticed it does update itself daily if not every other day so you should be fine.

To make sure you get updates at least weekly, however, under the settings tab I recommend you check the box “Check for the latest virus & spyware definitions before running a scheduled scan” however that’s a default setting so you should be fine just installing it and letting it role.

For other AV applications like McAfee checking to see if you’re running the latest signatures is simple.  Normally just find the Icon on your toolbar and Right Click its tray icon and Click About

You should also be able to configure your AV update and its AV definitions and signatures on a set schedule either weekly, daily, hourly or even every minute (not recommended) as shown below in an older copy of McAfee Anti-V program.

In summary, your AV application is useless 2-3 weeks after installing and in some cases they DAY you install it so BE SURE TO KEEP IT UPDATED or else you might as well not even install it.  Think of it like this.

Your Anti-V program is like a gun and the security signature updates released daily are the bullets.  A gun without bullets is worthless.  Likewise, an anti-V program is useless without regular updates to its signature files.

Be sure to update anti-virus daily with the latest signatures and definitions.

Install a good Anti-Spyware / Adware / Malware application

Some might argue that if you have a good AV application installed, you don’t need to worry about installing a specific Anti-Spyware / Adware application. For computer virus safety; personally, as mentioned above I believe in protecting my systems using layers of security.

If a layer misses an exploit due to an old Virus Signature, the next layer might get it. So, with that in mind, I like to install an Anti-Spyware application along with an Anti-V application just for the added layer of security. Despite all the negative press from the Vista days due to performance issue.

 Windows Defender has actually worked well on my Windows 7 system with little to no impact on system performance.

Another good option if you want a different set of Signature files between your Anti-V App and your Anti-Spyware App is Spy Bot Search and Destroy. It’s been around for years and very widely used across the world.

 Don’t be an Internet Victim!

Now that you’ve completed the above 3 stages, guess what!  You’re ready to open your web browser and surf the internet and use email!  Now, before you get all carried away with the feeling of invincibility because your PC is fully updated and secured, guess what.

The next few tips are actually the most important. That’s right… Ignore a few tips below and your computer will probably end up infected with malicious software in just a matter of weeks if not days.

Use common sense while using Email: Ensure to adhere to this glimpse

  • If you get an email from someone you don’t know, DELETE IT!
  • If you get an email with a file attachment you weren’t expecting even from a close friend or family member, DELETE IT!  If the email was legit, ask them about it later and have them resend.
  • If a bank or credit card company emails you and to tell you your account was hacked, DELETE IT!  Banks will ALWAYS call you if there is a problem with your account.  I guarantee this 100% of the time.  Even if the email is legit, DELETE IT and call your bank.  You don’t want all those private details in email anyway.
  • If you get an email that tells you to send money somewhere, DELETE IT!
  • If you get an email that tells you that you’ve won money….. DELETE IT!
  • If you get an email with an attachment that’s compressed and password protected, DELETE IT!
  • Be wary of poorly written broken English emails.  For one, it’s not worth reading and two; it’s probably a scam or a bug.
  • Be very wary of Greeting cards.  Most of them want you to click on a link.
  • If you get an email from your mother-in-law telling you about a new bugs on the internet DELETE IT (sorry, couldn’t resist).
  • Remember – If something doesn’t look right or if an email scares you… DELETE IT.  When in doubt, throw it out!

 Surf the web securely: Below are some tips

  1. first, Review security features of your favorite sites like Twitter.  There are lot of  Twitter Security  things you can do to keep your Twitter account secure.
  2. If you visit a website, and they offer to scan your system for viruses, leave the site immediately.  More than likely it’s a scam to get you to install something on your system which is never a good thing…
  3. NEVER install any software from a Website unless you know EXACTLY what the software is, and you went to that site to install it.
  4. Some websites you visit will prompt you to install some software to either scan your system for malicious software or to allow you to watch a movie or..???  Be VERY wary of this stuff.  There’s almost no way of knowing what it is that’s getting installed so been VERY WARY.  No credible company will ask you to install anything to view their site (Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silver light is the exception to this rule).
  5.  Never install free games found on the internet.  If you want a game for your kids, try to stick to Flash based games that work in your browser.  If a kid’s site wants you to install something on your system, forget it.  Run away!!
  6. Don’t steal software by download it from Bit Torrent sites.  Almost 100% of the time, the software you download from a Torrent will be protected by copyright law and is probably infected with some malicious code / bug which will install right alongside the application.  Best to just buy the software you want and stay away from the “Free / Illegal” side of the internet.

 Create a unique, strong password for each of your online accounts

Password management is vital to keeping your system and your online data secure. Many however don’t know the difference between a good password and a bad password.

If your one of these people just follows the three steps below to help you create a secure and unique password!

  1. A strong password is a unique As tempting as it might be, never use the same password on multiple websites. Sharing passwords between sites is like Russian roulette. All it takes is one website hack to really ruin your day. Add a layer of security to your online accounts by using unique passwords.
  2. Don’t use dictionary words. Yeah I know, your kids are really cute, but their names make horrible passwords as do months of the year. Dictionary words are easy to guess,and there about a million apps out there which specialize in attacking accounts using dictionary words in all known languages.
  3. Use a passphrase. You mean like an actual phrase?  Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. The great thing about a passphrase is its long, it’s not a dictionary word and in some cases, it’s easy to include special characters.
  4. Twitter doesn’t allow spaces in their passwords however you can still use special characters like in my example:  ilovegroovypostsoverymuch!! – Wow, a 27 character password which is easy to remember and includes two special characters.  Good luck trying to hack a password like that one!

Routine system maintenance

Backup, Oh! We couldn’t forget about backup! In computer virus safety; no matter how many precautions you take, having a solid and reliable backup is a must have.

If you’re not backing up your system today, stop what you’re doing and take the steps necessary to get a full system backup now!

What should you use?  There are a million different options.  If you prefer to keep your backup close, grab a USB drive and create a system image.

computer virus safety

This final tip is important because as you surf the web and install software, you pick up “things” like small bits of websites in cache, cookies which track you surfing, etc. By clearing out these small bits from time-to-time, you’re not only wiping away those tracking cookies, but you’re also protecting yourself in the event your system becomes compromised.

Granted, if that happens your already owned however as I mention below, security is about layers, and this is just one more you can add-on to your routine.

Conclusion

As already stated it’s about doing a lot of little things and using common sense vs. finding an end-all Security Guide on the internet somewhere. Due to quest for computer virus safety, you need to stay safe, be smart and don’t be an Internet victim. … Granted nothing is perfect.  Security is all about Layers!

 

 

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