How To Catch a Computer Virus

Awareness of computer security and viruses has increased for the better over the years. But knowing viruses are a threat, with little knowledge as to how they infect your equipment just leads to fear and not a well-executed plan to prevent them.

So below you’ll find my top 5 ways to catch a computer virus. Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive. But based on my own experience in the field this takes up most of the cases I’ve run into.

- Not Doing Updates – This includes Windows updates and all program updates (yes even the annoying Java update that never goes away). Something to consider about the annoyance of updates, is that the majority of Windows and program updates are not usually improvements but are security patches against the latest vulnerabilities.

Solution: Maybe set aside one day a week to click on all the icons yelling to let them update. If you never receive an alert to install updates or never see a notice first thing in the morning that your computer was just updated, there might be a problem that needs resolved.

- Websites – Typically websites to be careful of are sites that have a lot of ads or graphical movement. Ads, because they are being loaded from a different source then the website. So the website itself could be legit but if the source of the ad was compromised then it could deliver a problem on your computer. The graphical movement is called javascript and requires permissions to access your computer, which could then give permissions to a virus hidden in there.

Solution: Firefox is a web browser that offers a couple security based addons that could be very helpful. The first is called Adblock Plus. This is a personal favorite because it automatically blocks all ads on a webpage. The second is called NoScript Security Suite. It’s not quite as popular because it blocks all Javascript on a webpage unless you tell it to allow it, which usually makes most websites unusable without extra action. But if you’re very security minded it could be worth it.

- Emails – Caution with opening unfamiliar emails has been preached more than ever, and is still relevant. One myth though is that you have to open an attachment or click a link to get infected. But, anymore, it is possible to be infected by simply opening an email. That is why it is very important to not even open an email that is suspicious or unfamiliar.

Solution: If you find yourself the recipient of frequent spam or suspicious emails you may want to consider investing in a third party spam-filter. You typically pay annually based on how many email addresses are being protected. Spam filters examine all of your incoming emails and if they seem suspicious or test positive for virus presence it will automatically get quarantined.

- Scareware – Scareware is relatively new. It is exactly what it says it is because it involves a message popping up on your computer telling you that you’ve been hacked or have a virus. With the message you will have instructions to either click on a link or call a number.

Solution: If you ever experience this while on your computer DO NOT CALL or CLICK THE LINK! Microsoft will never give you a message like that. First disconnect from the internet by either disconnecting from your wireless network or unplugging the cable. You may need to reboot your computer to get the message to go away and then do a virus scan. But do not respond to the message. A lot of times simply receiving that message doesn’t mean you have a virus, but it is best to check with an IT professional to be safe.

- No Antivirus – Finally, not having antivirus software installed on your computer is a huge contributor to having a virus. Granted no antivirus can give you a 100% guarantee that you won’t get a virus, but it is your first line of defense in both prevention and early detection of a virus.

Solution: I resell AVG Cloudcare, other good ones are Webroot, Trend Micro or Kaspersky. Be sure to not let your subscription expire or you’ll stop receiving updates on new viruses that come out.

I hope this has been helpful.If you have any other questions feel free to reach out to me, through the Contact page on our website.

About the Author Tim Dixon

Tim Dixon is the owner of Solve IT Security.

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