Whatever purpose you use your computer for, malware is a huge problem. An infection on your home computer could lead to you wasting hours of your free time trying to fix it. Worse yet, it could compromise your personal information and leave you open for fraud and identity theft.
To help make sure you don’t get infected, here are 10 virus prevention tips you need to know.
1. Run Antivirus Software
This might seem like an obvious one, but many people are guilty of not running any antivirus software whatsoever. There’s no excuse for not running an antivirus program these days. Windows comes with an antivirus solution built right in: Windows Defender.
For most users, this is enough; make sure you always have it running and keep it updated. If you’re dealing with a situation where the computer might have more exposure to malware or if you need it to be extra secure, you might consider investing in a paid-for antivirus. For example, ESET Smart Security is consistently named as one of the best antivirus programs in the business.
2. Keep the Software Up-to-Date
It’s vital you keep your antivirus software up-to-date. Antivirus software has a database containing information about every virus. As new viruses are introduced to the internet, the database needs to be updated.
If you don’t allow your antivirus software to keep itself updated, it may be useless against new threats. If your software says it needs to restart to update, you shouldn’t keep it waiting for long.
3. Update Your Operating System
You also need to keep your operating system up-to-date. Updates to your OS contain critical security updates.
Sometimes, security issues with the OS will come to light and the developers need to patch up the vulnerability. In some cases, these holes in security can be so severe your antivirus won’t be able to detect the threat.
Over time, developers will stop supporting old OSs. If the OS you’re using is no longer supported, you should consider upgrading to a more modern version. Without critical security updates, your system will be exposed to risk.
4. Run Regular Scans on Your Antivirus Program
Your antivirus program needs to run scans to ensure your computer doesn’t have any malware issues. You need to allow your antivirus software to run regular scans; otherwise, you can’t guarantee your system is secure.
When your computer is doing a virus scan, it can use up a lot of your computer’s resources and cause your computer to slow down. This often leads to people shutting off the virus scan before it has a chance to complete. Ideally, you should set your antivirus scan to run at a time your computer will be on but you won’t be using it, such as when you’re cooking.
5. Back Up Your Files
When you have a proper backup system in place, what would’ve been devastating malware becomes trivial to recover from. For example, ransomware malware extorts you by encrypting all of your files and demanding Bitcoin payment to decrypt them.
If you have a good backup system in place, you can simply wipe your system and restore it from the backups. On the other hand, if you don’t have backups, you might have no choice but to pay to have your files decrypted.
6. Take Risks Safely
Sometimes, you might need to take a risk with your computer. For example, you might plug in a USB device that you suspect might have malware on it.
There are certain steps you can take to immunize your computer. For example, you could use a program like Deep Freeze. This allows you to save your computer in its current state.
When you restart your computer, Deep Freeze will restore your system back to how it was. If your computer gets infected, simply restart the system and Deep Freeze will roll everything back.
7. Think Before You Run Files
You should be cautious about running any executable files you download from the internet. You should always scan any .exe files you download with your antivirus program before you open them to ensure they don’t contain anything dangerous.
There are very few reasons you’d need to run a .exe file to access a site. If any site wants you to run an executable file to do something like watch a video, you should proceed with caution.
As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t understand what you’re installing and why then you shouldn’t do it.
8. Only Visit Legitimate Sites
A lot of malware comes from gray area sites; for instance, websites that let you watch movies or TV shows for free. If you want to keep your computer malware-free, make sure you only visit legitimate sites.
If you watch videos on sites like Netflix, they’re never going to try and serve you any malware. With other sites, you can never be sure.
9. Be Prepared to Format Your Computer
Sometimes, the best way to recover from malware infection is to reset your computer back to its factory settings. Often, your computer will come with a restore disk that you can use to restore your computer to its factory settings. Make sure you keep this in a safe place.
When you’re prepared, restoring your computer is relatively easy.
10. Make Sure Your Firewall Is Turned On
Your firewall is responsible for restricting what goes in and out of your computer via the internet. Some malware might need to communicate with the internet to function. If your firewall is properly configured, it’ll prevent malware from doing so.
Some firewalls offer an “interactive mode” where every ingoing or outgoing connection is shown to you for your approval.
Keep Virus Prevention in Mind
If you’re constantly getting viruses, you might need to change your surfing habits. These days, virus prevention is fairly easy. Most users can get away with running Windows Defender and by using common sense.
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