The internet is a vital part of many lives, and some of us use it constantly throughout the day. But that constant usage has increased the risk of infection by viruses, leading to potential data loss and identity theft. With a little basic training, you can reduce the problem of viruses and malware, and finally enjoy the internet on your own terms.
1. Beware of Fake Download Buttons
These can turn up anywhere, but generally you’ll find them on download sites. Whether legitimate or otherwise, you can guarantee there will be a download button that isn’t the one you want to click. The result can be that you downloaded something you don’t want — possibly a virus, although often simply bad software. Simply exercise caution when clicking links and buttons. Think twice and consider the following:
- Is this a site you’ve used before?
- Do you trust it?
- Have you checked the browser status bar to confirm the link destination?
- Does the button text and font match the rest of the site?
If you have doubts about any of these questions, then you should avoid the site, and certainly don’t download anything from it. Scammers can use all manner of coding tricks to entice you into making a dangerous mistake. Take your time and trust your instincts.
2. Use a Secure Browser
An old copy of Internet Explorer is just not good enough these days. Honestly, an old version of any browser cannot be considered secure. Hackers still profit from targeting this browser, and you can do yourself a favor by choosing something else to browse the web. Web browsers are updated regularly by their developers for many reasons, mostly to maintain and improve security. But Internet Explorer has basically been abandoned and is no longer updated, so you’re just setting yourself up for a handful of risks by using this web browser. Source: Orthopreneur Internet Marketing
Online shopping, online banking, social networking — they all have their risks, and the last thing you want is a browser harboring some dangerous software that records your keystrokes or hijacks a secure link to your bank account.
How secure you want to go depends on how concerned you are. We’d recommend you start with Google’s Chrome browser, Mozilla Firefox or Microsoft Edge, they are all a secure replacement for Internet Explorer. Download these browser’s here.
3. Hang Up on Cold-Calling Tech Support Agents
In the UK and North America, there has been an epidemic of scam telephone calls from people claiming to be from “Windows technical support” or some close variations. Before we continue, understand this: Microsoft won’t call you out of the blue to fix your PC! Variations on this are claims that the caller is from your mobile phone provider. Their aim is to get you to find “proof” of an issue on your machine, then download a piece of software that affords the caller — who is a scam artist— control of your PC. From then on, they have the opportunity to install keyloggers, backdoors, and other tools that might be used to steal information from you.
The defense here is to refuse to talk to anyone claiming to be from Microsoft, your phone provider, or anyone from a company who you didn’t recently contact first. Just hang up. Certainly, don’t let them walk you through the “checks” and download the “fix”.
4. Ignore Security-Themed Pop-Up Adverts
This can be tricky to spot, as often pop-up adverts can appear from the bottom-right corner of your screen from any currently-running anti-virus software installed on your system. Frustratingly, this also happens with paid solutions, not just free ones. If the pop-up seems to originate from your browser — you can check this by completely closing it — you should ignore this. In fact, any and all security messages that did not occur during a scan that you recently initiated should be ignored. For instance, your anti-virus software will have a “scan” button. Didn’t press it? Then ignore the message.
There’s a bad side to all of this, however. If you see anti-virus messages on your computer and haven’t installed any anti-virus software, then your system is infected. Time to take steps to remove the infection!
5. Install An Anti-Virus Software On Your Computer
A good antivirus software will protect your computer from any unauthorized code or software that creates a threat to the system. Unauthorized software includes viruses, keyloggers, trojans, etc. Even if your system is virus free, you should install an antivirus software to prevent the system from further attack of viruses.
Anti-virus software plays a major role in real time protection. Its added advantage of detecting threats helps computers and the information on them to be safe. Some advanced anti-virus programs provide automatic updates, this further helps to protect the computer from newly created viruses.
There are a wide range of both free and costly anti-virus softwares. Some of the free software is actually pretty good. We recommend doing your research before purchasing your antivirus software.
6. Don’t Open Email Attachments Forwarded to You
E-mail is one of the primary ways to exchange information among internet users and it is also a common method for spreading viruses. Below are some tips for avoiding viruses or passing them on to others.
- Beware of unexpected or unsolicited e-mail attachments. It’s the attachment to the email that contains the potential hazard. If the attachment came from an unknown sender, either unexpected or unsolicited, the best decision would be to delete the email without opening it. If the email is from a known and trusted source, but you did not expect an attached file from that source, you may want to contact the sender to confirm that the attachment is legitimate.
- Avoid forwarding email attachments unless you first scan the attachment for viruses. If you have an anti-virus program that scans all incoming e-mail attachments, or if you can scan the attachment after it arrives, then it is probably safe to forward the attachment. Otherwise, do not forward the attachment.
- Data files will not carry viruses. A file that contains only data will not carry a virus since a virus has to have some kind of executable code. For example, files ending with the extension .txt, .csv, .gif, .jpg, .mp3, .wav are common data files that would not have executable code. Files ending in .doc, .xls, .exe, and even .htm may have executable code and could potentially carry a virus.