Technology is evolving at a rapid rate, and as it does, so does the threat of viruses, adware, trojans, spyware and other malware infections. Unfortunately, this is currently a situation that is only getting worse.
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A Computer Economics report showed that annual worldwide malware expenses increased by £10 billion (to £13 billion) over a recent 10-year span. Google Research suggests that one in 10 websites is infected with some form of malware. In June 2009, the Windows Secrets e-newsletter reported that such seemingly safe websites such as “coldwellbanker.com”, “variety.com”, and even “tennis.com” were exposing Internet Explorer (although, you really shouldn’t be using Internet Explorer anyway!) visitors to the Gumblar exploit, which threatens to compromise visitors’ systems in order to propagate – scary right?
That isn’t why I’m writing this article though, knowledge is power, and I’m going to share some of the best practises followed by IT professionals, in the hope you can better protect yourself from the aforementioned threats.
1. Install Quality Anti-Virus Software
Now you may think that free alternatives, such as that provided with your internet service providers bundle, may be sufficient, and whilst this is better than no protection at all, they are often inadequate. For the casual personal user you may find this solution to work without a hitch, however I would recommend a professional grade anti-virus where possible. As for business users, it is paramount that you invest in a business grade antivirus. This is an absolute essential.
If you aren’t currently running any sort of anti-virus, then please contact us immediately!
2. Perform Daily Scans
With a premium Anti-Virus solution, background/live scanning is often performed automatically, however, if you’re on a free version, or you’re not sure if your anti-virus has automatic features, then ideally, you need to run a scan every day. This will provide another layer of protection, which can be invaluable in detecting, isolating, and removing infections that may initially escape your security software’s attention.
3. Don’t Click On E-Mail Links Or Attachments
Spam is increasing in volume, its becoming harder and harder to protect against, and it becoming increasingly clever. If you don’t know who the email is from and you’re not expecting it, then as a rule, treat it with extreme caution. If it is asking for money, or to open anything you’re not expecting, then I would suggest you do not open it and send it straight to the bin. You must also watch out for emails that appear to be sent from your bank or Paypal. Again, if they’re asking for you to login via email, or asking for payment details, delete it immediately. It is now common practise that no banking or financial institutions ask for personal account information via emails or email links. Attachments that are .zip, .doc, .docx, .txt (to name a few) are all potentially risky and may conceal malicious code. If you are unsure about the contents of an email, then pick up the phone and give the person in question a call to verify the contents.
4. Install real-time Anti-Spyware / Anti-Malware Software
Many computer users think that a single anti-virus program will provide sufficient protection from the increasing amount of threats in today’s world. Sadly, in most cases, it’s just not true. More often than not, installing anti-spyware provides another strong layer of protection.
Most free anti-spyware programs do not provide real-time or active protection from adware, trojan and other spyware infections. Whilst many free programs can detect spyware threats after they’ve installed themselves, typically the full paid version is required to prevent infections and fully remove those that are already present.
These tips are designed to give you a basic insight into how to better protect yourself online, if you have any questions about anything mentioned above, then please feel free to get in touch.