Happy 2013! Viruses are becoming more widespread and more dangerous than ever. Keep yourself safe and take necessary precautions to protect yourself.
More than half of the business at computer repair and maintenance shops comes from customers who have a virus. Viruses are problematic – they compromise the security of a computer, slow it down and sometimes steal personal information. Moreover, some are almost impossible to eradicate if you don’t use the help of a computer repair shop.
New and increasingly complex viruses are being developed all the time. In January 2011, the WildList Organization International classified nearly 600 new computer viruses. One of the latest threats is the “Flame” virus, which is known as one of the world’s most complex and elusive.
Fortunately, in many cases viruses are as simple to avoid as they are to contract. Here’s how:
1. Browse with Caution
If a website is carrying a virus, simply visiting the site can infect your computer. As you surf the web, stick to sites you trust and those created by companies you trust. Keep in mind that a safe website might have links to unsafe sites. For example, your favorite blog might have an interesting-looking link in its sidebar that leads you to a malicious site. This doesn’t necessarily mean that website or blog owner is out to get you. Oftentimes, the links are sponsored advertisements and the site owners don’t know where they actually lead.
In your web browser’s “Tools” section of the toolbar, you may find the option to adjust the security settings. To keep your computer safer, adjust these settings so you get a warning if a website tries to install an add-on, and so your browser will automatically block reported malicious sites as well as known web forgeries (harmful look-alike sites). Make sure your computer is using all the encryption protocols available, like SSL or TLS. A computer repair shop can help you perform these actions if you’re not sure how.
2. Correspond Carefully
Emails are a common virus source seen by computer repair and maintenance shops. It’s common knowledge that emails stating that you can partake in someone’s multi-million dollar inheritance, get free medication and so on are bogus. However, what you may not know is that if a computer is infected with a virus, the virus can send out infected emails without the computer’s owner knowing it.
For example, if your best friend has a computer virus, the virus may send you an email with a malicious attachment and the subject line, “Check out this funny picture!” If you’re not expecting to receive an email with an attachment, ask the sender about it first.
One of the scary things about email is that simply opening a message can infect your computer with a virus. To help prevent this from happening, only open messages from senders you know.
3. Update Regularly
Your computer’s operating system is kind of like your body – there’s only so much an immune system can do against viruses. And if it doesn’t have the proper immunizations (operating system updates and antivirus software), viruses will get through.
When you see the flashing shield in the corner of your computer screen telling you there’s a new Microsoft update, install the update immediately. This update fills in security gaps so your computer can better defend itself against viruses. A good antivirus program can help fill in the rest of the gaps. However, if you fail to update your antivirus software and operating system, your computer is defenseless against the latest threats.
A simple way to install the latest operating system and antivirus patches and updates onto your computer is to set up and allow automatic updates and regularly scheduled virus scans. To learn about the best antivirus programs to use, talk to the pros at a computer repair shop. They’re more than happy to tell you about whatever software they personally use.
Source: This post was contributed by Zac Cramer, the founder of Happy Hamster Computers, the largest independently-owned computer store in Portland, Oregon. Zac and his team fix more than 3,000 computers a year, and provide awesome support to businesses throughout the community. He lives in SE Portland with his fiancé and their pet rats, Tizzy and Mouse.
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