It’s all over the news: malware in Yahoo advertisements, exploits in Firefox Add-ons – sometimes it can seem like computer viruses are inevitable. Here are some easy habits that will help you ensure your computer is as protected as possible:
1) Update your software
Keep your software current – this includes Java, Adobe Flash, and internet browsers like Chrome, Internet Explorer, and Firefox – as well as regular Windows Updates. This is as simple as clicking “yes” when you are prompted to install. It you prefer not to get notified for every update, most applications have an “update automatically” option.
2) Ensure your primary User Account is not set as Administrator
When you use an account with administrator permissions, it is much easier for software to run and install itself on your computer without your approval. Create a second, password protected user account with administrator rights called “Admin” and change your primary account type to “Standard.”
3) Make software ask permission before installing
Open the “User Account Control” window by typing “UAC” into your start menu. Make sure the setting is at “Notify me when apps try to make changes to my computer” or higher. This will cause your computer to display a prompt like this when you try to install or update a program:
This prompt gives you the opportunity to decide whether you want to install the software.
4) Look before you approve a software installation
Just enabling User Account Control is not enough – make sure you look at the program name and the publisher before you click Yes. If either one seems unfamiliar, a quick Google search for the program name and publisher will help you determine whether to install.
For example – a search for CCleaner – a legitimate, well-known computer maintenance and optimization program – returns the following list of places to download the software:
On the other end of the spectrum, a search for Vosteran – an annoying and invasive browser extension that causes pop-ups and changes your home page – reads more like a laundry list of complaints, warnings, and instructions for how to remove the program:
If you have questions or if you need help with virus removal and/or training employees to recognize and avoid viruses, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve all done it- no matter how careful we are, somehow we all manage to pick up a virus at some point. One of the most common ways people get computer viruses is through spam email.
Although a large percentage of spam is easy to identify, some varieties use more subtle and difficult to detect methods. This article will help you identify and avoid many types of email-borne viruses.
Most email-borne viruses come in the form of attachments or web links. Before you click, ask yourself: Do I recognize the person or organization sending me the email? Am I expecting this information? If the answer to either or both of these questions is “no,” think twice before clicking links or downloading attachments.
Even if you recognize the sender, they may have had their account compromised. Read the language of the email carefully before opening links and attachments – most illegitimate email from known email addresses will sound very different from the sender’s usual style. Common giveaways include:
Below is the full address from a link in an email from MyNewCompany.com. When I hovered over the link with my mouse, the web address contained the word “mynewcompany,” so it is a safe assumption that this is a legitimate communication.
If you are still uncertain, you can always navigate to the page yourself. For example, if you get a suspicious email that says it is from your bank, just type www.mybank.com into the address bar instead of clicking on the embedded link. If you don’t find the information from the email on the bank’s website – congratulations! You just successfully avoided email spam.
Stay tuned for our next post, where we will discuss other ways to avoid viruses – and how to remove them if they make it through your best defenses.
If you have questions or if you need help with virus removal and/or training employees to recognize and avoid viruses, contact us at email@example.com - ask about our spam training courses!