The term, “computer virus,” is commonly used to describe anything from spyware, malware, worms, trojans, to actual viruses themselves. While there is some overlap between these types of malicious software, one factor that is uniform across each category is that they are always hostile to your computer system and exist for the sole purpose of creating some level of data loss, intrusion, or unauthorized access to your computer.
Given the expanding role of the internet in our lives and growing concern associated with online privacy and data security, it is essential that every computer and network is safeguarded against computer viruses. While many business and individuals have opted for professional IT support and maintenance for their computer systems, the tips below are some preliminary ways by which everyone can get started on keeping their computer protected to avoid harmful intrusion.
Use Anti-Virus Software
One of the best things you can do to protect your computer is to install the latest anti-virus and internet security software. A good internet security package will include a secure firewall that combines both protection and web freedom. It will allow you to surf the web relatively unhindered while shielding your computer against viruses, worms and trojans. Make sure to update your anti-virus software to stay up to date; schedule regular virus and malware scans; and scan every file you download, install, or transfer to your computer.
Don’t Open Attachments from Untrusted Sources or Download from Suspicious Sites
Another tip is to avoid opening email attachments from untrusted sources or download from unknown sites. While good anti-virus software will catch most viruses, there are always exceptions to the rule. Never be tempted to open executable files from unknown senders or files you have downloaded from suspicious websites. Make sure your email client software (e.g. Outlook or Thunderbird) is not configured to automatically download and open email attachments. If your work necessitates that you open attachments from unknown or new contacts from time to time, always manually download these files to a designated folder and run a comprehensive virus scan before opening the document.
Always Log in on a Standard User Account
Don’t use an administrator account unless necessary. You are given a choice to set up a standard user account or an administrator account the first time you use your computer or install your operating software. For added security in every day use, use a standard user account without administrator privileges. For most operating systems, this means you will not be able to install software or perform other administrator-only tasks without being prompted for a password or confirmation. Using a standard user account gives an extra level of security by bringing your attention to the matter when new software is being installed.
Download Updates and Stay Up To Date
Keep all software, including your operating system, up to date. The major operating systems, such as Windows or Mac OS, have automatic updates. You should check to make sure that other software – office software, media, and internet browsers – have the latest software patches. Make a list of the programs you use most frequently and check their status. Downloads and service packs are usually free or they can be made available on a subscription basis. These updates ensure that your software has no loopholes or bugs that can render your computer vulnerable to hackers and viruses.
Have Your System Assessed by a Professional
One of the best ways to be protected against viruses and other harmful software is to have your system assessed by a professional. It is very common for businesses and corporations to have their network systems checked by business IT support professionals who can test systems for security and vulnerability and make suggestions for improvement. Individuals concerned about their data security and privacy may also opt to have their computer hardware and software formally analysed by security professionals for peace of mind.