There’s no shortage of viruses for your computer to contract. From adware to spyware to ransomware, cyberspace is teeming with digital dangers. Additionally, upon contracting a virus, the consequences can range from dealing with a minor annoyance to having your personal information and/or sensitive financial data compromised. Surprisingly, despite the devastating toll certain viruses can take, a staggering number of us refuse to take preventative measures against virus infection. Not only can protecting yourself from viruses save you a tremendous amount of hassle, it’s also much easier than you may think. Anyone who’s ready to win the fight against computer viruses will be well-served by the following pointers.
Install Dedicated Antivirus Software
The fact that most operating systems feature cybersecurity components has led many people to believe that they no longer need dedicated antivirus software. While your operating system definitely has an important role to play in your virus-prevention efforts, it shouldn’t be the only tool in your arsenal – and it’s no substitute for specialized antivirus programs. As such, if your computer currently lacks dedicated antivirus software, there’s no time like the present to rectify this mistake.
When searching for the right antivirus software, look for options that offer sweeping protection from an ever-expanding array of cyberthreats, provide users with regular updates and have received high marks from both tech publications and consumers. Additionally, to get the most out of your antivirus software, you’ll need to install updates and patches as they become available. Just remember – even though dedicated antivirus software is essential, not all antivirus programs are created equal.
Be Mindful of Email Attachments
Exercising caution when it comes to email attachments can be a boon to your overall security. Since viruses are commonly spread through attachments, you’d do well to avoid downloading attachments contained in messages from unfamiliar parties. Furthermore, even if an email appears to be from one of your contacts, there’s a chance it’s from a third party who’s gained access to your personal information. So, if a message purporting to be from someone you know strikes you as suspicious, get in touch with the supposed sender before proceeding to download any attachments.
By extension, make sure to regard links found in emails in a similar manner. Unless a message comes from a trusted friend, family member or work colleague, avoid clicking any links found therein, as there’s a chance these links could direct you to sites that are teeming with viruses and/or malware.
Only Download Software from Trusted Sources
Viruses are commonly spread through infected installation files. To prevent yourself from falling victim to such a ruse, take care to only download software from trusted sources. Additionally, before proceeding to install new software, run a threat scan on the installation file, as this will often inform you of any viruses or malware contained therein.
Keep Your Applications Up to Date
As previously stated, you’ll need to regularly update your dedicated antivirus software to enjoy its full benefits. However, this is far from the only application you’ll need to update on a regular basis. All programs and applications on your PC should be kept up to date, and all update files should be installed in a timely manner. This is particularly important in the case of your operating system. Many updates are created to patch security vulnerabilities and combat new and emerging cyberthreats, and the longer you put off installing them, the more vulnerable your computer becomes.
All of us are guilty of placing important updates on the backburner at one point or another. To help ensure that you don’t give into the temptation to hit “Remind me later,” enable automatic updates for both your operating system and applications.
For as long as home computers have been around, viruses have been a prevalent issue. Some viruses will merely inconvenience you, while others can have far more severe consequences. Still, there’s no such thing as a good virus, and anyone who values cybersecurity would do well to make virus prevention a priority. Given the ever-present threat viruses represent, it’s easy to see why so many of us believe that effective virus protection must be an uphill battle. In actuality, however, a little bit of knowhow, persistence and follow-through can go a long way towards stamping out viruses and keeping your computer (and the data contained thereon) safe.