Sadly there’s a lot of viruses or malware around designed to damage your computer, steal your information, or even get you to pay money. To help all of you with computers to keep safe, I asked Andrew Stelakis, business technology consultant at Q2Q, to share his top tips.
1. Don’t turn off your anti-virus scanner. Because there are always new pieces of malware being developed and released, anti-virus software usually updates itself to look for new ones, so keep your virus-scanner on and up-to-date. An important factor to remember is: If you don’t run your anti-virus scanner, or turn off your scanner, the chances of your computer being infected is greatly increased.
2. Watch what you download. One of the more common ways malicious software get onto computers is through downloaded files. That toolbar that a website is advertising as ‘a must-have’, or the file that must be downloaded to watch a film online may actually be teeming with viruses. Therefore, only download files from websites you know are secure and offer legitimate files. And, before you download anything ask yourself, “Do I really need this, and will I really use it?” If you’re unsure, don’t do it!
3. Study email attachments closely. Viruses are often spread through email attachments. Sometimes an email account has been compromised and a hacker is sending emails to users with the virus attached, or the host system has been infected and the virus is essentially sending itself.
Before you open ANY attachment, check it’s genuine. If you get an email saying a document or file is attached, take a look at the name of the attached file. If it ends in .exe or .dmg this is a program and potentially a virus, so should not be opened. Also check who is sending the email. If you don’t know the person it’s recommended you don’t open the attachment.
4. Avoid using shared disks when possible. While external hard drives and pen drives are incredibly useful, viruses can actually be spread by them. If you do use these drives, many virus scanners can check them for you. Before you open a file right click on it and you should see an option to scan the drive with your virus scanner. If not, you can likely do this from the virus scanner itself.
This may take time, but it all helps keep you safe and save you from a costly computer clean up.