There are some simple rules you can follow that will help you avoid computer viruses. Most of these fall under the category of common sense.
Don't open strange e-mail attachments or click on hyperlinks in e-mail. Virus programmers love to trick people into clicking on links that will lead them to malicious software. Let people know that you don't click on hyperlinks in e-mail unless the sender includes a description of the link and what it leads to. If your e-mail client supports autolaunch, turn it off. Otherwise you might automatically activate a computer virus just by opening the e-mail.
The same applies to other messages you might encounter. Hyperlinks in message boards, Facebook messages or instant messages can sometimes lead to malware. Pay attention to the source of the message. Look for any unusual signs like misspellings or odd sentence structure, particularly if the person who sent you the message normally avoids errors. If you do see an odd link, you may want to let the sender know -- he or she might be the victim of a hacked account.
Don't visit questionable Web sites. This includes everything from software, music and video piracy sites to porn pages. Many current Web browsers will alert you if you try to go to a site that is known for hosting malware. Pay attention to these warnings and stay away from those sites.
Pay close attention to any windows that pop up while you surf the Web. If you see a notification claiming that you need to download the latest video driver to watch something, use caution. This is a common tactic used to distribute malware.
Run your antivirus software at least once a week. You should also make sure your antivirus software and OS remain current by downloading updates and patches on a regular basis. Most antivirus software updates at least once a week as security firms add more virus information to their databases.
Avoiding viruses might sound like a lot of work but keep in mind it's easier than fixing a computer that's been hit with a virus. Learn more about computer viruses and safe computing below.
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More Great Links
- Academic Computing. "What to do if your computer is already infected with a virus." University of Minnesota. (March. 26, 2009) http://www1.umn.edu/adcs/guides/security/infection_cleanup.html
- Dittrich, David. "Lifecycle: Preventing, detecting and removing bots." March 20, 2005. (March 19, 2009) http://searchsecurity.techtarget.com/tip/0,289483,sid14_gci1068906,00.html
- Microsoft Security. "How to remove a computer virus." Microsoft. Dec. 31, 2008. (March 25, 2009) http://www.microsoft.com/protect/computer/viruses/remove.mspx
- Robertson, Jordan. "How to tell, what to do if computer is infected." AP News. March 15, 2009. (March 17, 2009) http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TEC_INSIDE_A_BOTNET_CHECKLIST?SITE=ILEDW&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT