This Is How to Prevent Malware on Your Computer

The pandemic may have slowed down many businesses but the malware business has been thriving.

Big-name brands such as Garmin have been hit, and the University of California School of Medicine reportedly paid $1.14 million after a ransomware attack.

Malware can have a devastating effect on both businesses and individuals, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce your risk.

Read on to learn how to prevent malware with some simple but effective steps.

Install Antivirus and Antimalware Software

One of the best ways to stop most viruses and malware attacks is to install antivirus and antimalware software. There is a huge choice out there, with some excellent free products, and some that require a fee or subscription.

There are two important things when using antimalware software. The first is that you only use products from trustworthy sites or companies. If you don’t, you may actually end up installing malware from a fake antimalware product.

The second important thing is that you keep it regularly updated. New malware and viruses are developed all the time, and if you don’t keep your software updated, some may slip through the net. It’s best to turn on automatic updates so that your antimalware application is always as up-to-date as it can be.

Keep Your OS Updated

Just as you should keep your malware software updated, you also need to do the same with your operating system.

If vulnerabilities are found in your OS, patches will be released to stop any malicious programs utilizing those vulnerabilities. If you don’t keep your OS updated, you’ll be leaving yourself wide open to attack. 

As with your antivirus software, turn on automatic updates so that your OS is always up-to-date.

Don’t Click Links Unless You’re Certain

One of the most common ways to get infected with malware is by clicking malicious links.

These links are often found in emails or on websites. The rule of thumb is: if you’re not 100% confident in the source of the link, don’t click it. For example, if you receive an email from a friend and it has a strange-looking link, it may be that they’ve been hacked and the link is actually malware.

There are ways to verify that links are safe. You can check with the sender that they did actually send you the link and what it is. You can hover over a link to see the full link address; if it’s not obvious where it’s from, don’t click it.

If in doubt, leave the link well alone.

Back Up Everything

One of the most common malware attacks is the use of ransomware. This type of malware will encrypt your data and only decrypt it again if you agree to pay a hefty ransom. This is the type of attack suffered by the University of California.

One way to defend against this type of attack is to back up all of your data to external hard drives, to the cloud, or ideally both. That way, if you are subject to a ransomware attack, you can restore your data from your backups, without having to worry about paying any ransom. 

Use Strong Passwords

If you use weak passwords, you are asking for trouble. Obvious options such as p455word are leaving you open to having your accounts hacked. Once someone has your password, they can do anything they want with your account.

Make sure your passwords are at least 12 characters long, include upper and lower case, symbols, numbers, and special characters, and don’t use common words within them. You should also make sure that you don’t use the same password across different accounts.

The best way to stay secure is to use a password manager. These allow you to use highly complex passwords and save you the trouble of having to remember them.

You should also turn on two-factor authentication for any accounts that offer it. This is where you need to enter a code sent to your phone or generated by an app in order to log in to your account. It means that even if someone has your password they can’t sign in unless they have your phone too.

Avoid Public WiFi

When you’re out and about, it’s tempting to log on to the free WiFi at your local coffee shop.

The trouble is, these networks aren’t secure, and could leave you open to man-in-the-middle attacks. This is where a malicious party intercepts your data on its way to and from the WiFi network, allowing them to see everything you’ve been typing, including your passwords.

If you need to use WiFi when out and about, then always use a virtual private network to keep your data safe.

Protect Personal Information

Many hacks aren’t don’t through software, but rather through social engineering. This is a way of gathering enough information about a person to be able to log into accounts via secret answers or even through figuring out passwords. This was the method used in the infamous iCloud hacks.

The more of your personal information you leave out there, the more likely this kind of attack is. Always try to keep your personal information safe by turning on the most strict privacy settings for social media and other public accounts, and ensuring no one has access to paperwork that contains personal information.

Keep Informed

The last tip is to always keep yourself informed. Malware attacks are constantly evolving. If you regularly read up on the latest methods, you can take the steps necessary to try to avoid them.

It may be a vulnerability in a particular piece of software or operating system, or it might just be a new clever way of trying to get people to give up their passwords. The more you learn about new malware attacks, the better protected you will be.

It’s Vital You Know How to Prevent Malware

With hackers getting ever more sophisticated, it’s more important than ever to know how to prevent malware attacks. It’s still possible that you might become a victim of a malware attack, but by following the steps above, you can reduce the risk significantly.

If you’ve been the victim of a malware attack, we can help. We offer a virus removal service which involves scanning your computer and removing any viruses or malware that we find. We also offer other computer repair services too.

Contact us today and let us help revive your computer!