Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Two Best Places to Pick Up a Virus

By: Bob T. Wilson

Malware is a definite part of safe computing. These nasty little computer programs can damage your computer to the point of needing to completely reformat the operating system. They can also grow and hide within a computer system until it is too late causing even further damage. This is why many organizations, such as Symantec, a prominent anti-virus program manufacturer, as well as other well-known security software manufacturers, have put together some simple “rules of the road” for safe computing.

Some of these rules are common sense, however they go mostly unheeded which is why these anti-virus and anti-malware programs exist in the first place; if everyone knew and followed safe computing practices then there would be no need for so much protection. As it is now, users seem to click on every blinking light that dances across the Internet, so with that in mind the security industry rests easy in knowing its bottom line is safe at least for now.

Attachments: Email attachments have been a sore spot for computer users for many decades. Even the fabled “uninfectable” and “virus-free” Apple Mac computers have come across an attachment or email virus now and again, the most recent is the DNS Changer virus. These viruses can cause some hideous destruction just by opening them.

The best bet would be to allow your anti-virus program to scan any attachments that come into your email, even if you think you know where it came from. This is a best practice tip because email addresses are easily spoofed so the email you thought was from your grandmother could actually be a hacker trying to get to your personal and private information. If your anti-virus scanner does not scan your email, then it is time to look for a good one that does.

Free Download Websites: Another sore spot for computer users are downloads from media websites. Anything that looks too good to be true usually is, right? Than why would you think the full “free’ download of your favorite, “not yet out on DVD” series would be any different?

Many malicious bugs tend to hide within these purported “free” downloads, hoping someone will stumble on them, download them, and even open them without checking for viruses or other nasty hangers on, and this is how a great deal of computers becomes infected. Any time you download anything from an unknown site, you are taking a risk. Is your entire computer and its contents worth seeing the series a few days ahead of other people? Again, if your anti-virus program does not scan for download viruses, then it is time for one that does.

The Solution

Many free anti-virus and anti-malware programs are available that are just as good as the commercial versions. The best tips to take away is to find a good anti-malware and anti-virus program that scans for every malicious problem, install them and keep them updated. You would be amazed at how many people’s computers become infected because they neglected to update their virus scanner. Don’t be the next one.