With computers in almost every home and business, there is now an increased risk of acquiring computer viruses. A computer virus is a program that makes duplicates of itself and infects a users computer files. These viruses can spread from computer to computer infecting files and programs. Computer viruses are such a hazard because they can erase stored information and permanently damage files.
The following is a list of the many methods a user can implement to protect their computer from harmful viruses:
Make back-up copies of important documents and files and store them on a separate disk or external hard drive. By doing this, you will still have a copy of your files if your information is erased or the computer suffers other damage.
Use a quality anti-virus program that will scan files, programs, and software. Make sure you keep the anti-virus software up-to-date and scan your computer often. You can download anti-virus software from the web or purchase it from a store.
Do not share commercial software with anyone. It is an easy way to spread viruses. Make sure the software comes from a well-known and established source.
When you download files from the internet, make sure you scan them for viruses before opening and running them.
Watch out for spyware and hackers. Spyware programs are usually entwined with a download and will install itself onto a computer. The programs will monitor your search patters and relay the information back to the person who sent it. They can even acquire any stored financial information. Make sure you have a trusted firewall. A firewall is a program or hardware device that filters information coming through the Internet connection into your computer system. If incoming information is flagged by the filters, it will not be allowed through to your computer. It is also recommended that you expand your anti-virus protection to include anti-spyware, anti-hacker-tools (prevents hijackers from accessing your computer,) anti-key-loggers (protects your passwords,) and anti-worms. A worm is a small piece of software that uses computer networks and security holes to replicate itself and cause damage.
Block porn and spam using a spam filter program. These programs identify any suspicious emails and delete them before you open it. Some programs will even send an email back to the spammer saying your address is invalid.
Most viruses are triggered by opening an attachment. Don't open any attachments in an email unless you know the sender or the attachment has been scanned. If you are not sure about the attachment, delete it. A file with an extension like EXE, COM or VBS, is an executable program file. Once opened, it can run and do all sorts of damage to your computer. The best protection is to never open these executables that arrive in your e-mail.
If your computer is infected with a virus, use an anti-virus program to remove the virus and quickly get rid of all copies of the virus. If you need help, turn your computer off and take it to a professional who knows how to remove viruses.
It is important to remember that most viruses can be removed without permanently damaging your computer system. As well, most virus infections can be prevented. With proper anti virus protocols, you can protect you computer from harmful viruses.