- Don’t Open Unexpected Email Attachments. Computer viruses must make someway into your computer. One of the most common entry points is the E-mail inbox. The hacker attaches the virus onto an email, and then sends it to the user. The filename of the virus is usually masked with something fluffy like “Hallmark Card.”
NEVER download attachments from unknown senders. Furthermore, verify if your friend/family sent you an attachment. Just because an attachment is from a friend or family member, doesn’t mean their email account wasn’t hacked and a virus attachment was sent to you.
- Avoid unknown/unreliable Websites. So, you Google’d “Indigo Furbies” in the search engine to try and purchase the hottest new furby. Upon browsing the search engine results, you see a website listed as “
FREEFURBIES!” – Look at the web address before clicking the link! Verify that the web address is from a known/trusted company. If anything, open a new browser window, then google the name of the company to see if anyone on the internet has complained about the website’s legitimacy. Usually, some anti-virus programs have built-in features to your browser that gauge the trustworthiness of the website you are about to enter. Going to web sites that guarantee something unusually free almost guarantees a virus infection.
- Don’t click on links that lead outside trusted websites! Social Media is the best example for this practice! Your Facebook Friend’s account gets hacked. The hacker posts on your friend’s Facebook to “Check out the dead pictures of Osama Bin Laden!” You think your friend has posted a link that shows legitimate pictures of Osama Bin Laden – Usually, trusted websites that you avidly use will warn you that you are about to leave their website to go to a different one. 9 times out of 10 you will be directed to another trusted website, but do so AT YOUR OWN RISK! Any link that leads you to the outside of a trusted website has no guarantee that it will be safe. Beware of this on YouTube as well!
- Always have an updated Anti-Virus Program. Despite the fact that Anti-virus programs are not 100% effective, they are still needed on your computer. Check to see if your anti-virus has a “Safe Zone” or “Sandbox” feature. These features are AMAZING because they allow you to surf the internet within a “Safe Zone” or “Sandbox” with in your computer. That said, if anything infects your computer, then it will only infect the “safe zone” or “sand box” and not the whole computer itself. This feature is awesome for letting kids browse the internet. Also, ensure your anti-virus is updated regularly.
- Always ensure Windows Updates are Up to date. Occasionally, exploits in your operating system or browser are found by hackers. When Microsoft identifies these exploits, they release updates or hot fixes that closes exploits. With that said, it is your responsibility to ensure these updates are loaded on to your computer. If you do not ensure updates are being installed, then you risk leaving a “back door” open for a hacker to get in your computer. You should be informed at the bottom right of the screen if updates are needed to your computer. Google how to check up on your Windows updates for more information.
- Stay Away from Bit Torrents or File Sharing Programs! Although you can illegally obtain music, video, programs, and other stuff for free, you can also gain a computer virus VERY easily! Less computer savvy individuals (mostly kids) want to jump on the “Free” bandwagon and be a “renegade” at the same time by using Limewire, Bit Torrents, and other file sharing programs. Hacker’s take advantage of people like these and create virus files that mimic what people are looking for to infect computers. Although a filename says “Beyonce,” it doesn’t mean that it is always truly a music file. I highly recommend people just go the legal route in obtaining files by using iTunes or other legal services. Buying a .99 cent song is cheaper than downloading a virus that costs 150 dollars (or more) to disinfect.
- Supervise Kids! Allowing kids to browse on the computer unsupervised throws all of the aforementioned out the window. Kids are not only the easiest to fool, but they are also careless when roving about the internet. I highly recommend that you never let your kids on the main computer of the household, but rather have a Netbook or something else cheap to tear-up/infect without worry of losing important data or credit card numbers. If anything, ensure that you have an anti-virus with a sandbox or safe zone feature, and make sure kids always use it when browsing the internet. Your paranoia of kids browsing/utilizing the internet should be equal to the paranoia of them getting in a white van after being offered gummy bears.