How could I have gotten a virus? I only open emails from friends and I never go to websites I don’t know. These are some of the most widely disputed issues everyone claims when they are informed their computer is infected with a virus.
Avoiding spyware and virus infections is almost as difficult these days as it is to avoid a cold in the dead of winter. Fortunately there are things you can do to protect your computer. While no antivirus program is perfect no matter what they told you at the store or online you should know that all is not lost when fighting virus infections.
I have put together a list of items to protect your computer. First and foremost install updated antivirus and antispyware programs. Make sure to confirm they are updated at least once a week and please use the programs no less than once a month.
The next step is to make sure you have a backup of your data. One of my employees has a funny saying he uses;” if you only have one copy of something it’s not really that important”. Ideally you should backup the entire hard drive however if you can at least backup the important data files that would be better than nothing. If the drive dies or the virus infection causes your operating system to display the dreaded Blue Screen of Death you will still have your data. While you’re at it, why not backup those favorites from the browser. After all, you do like to see those websites everyday.
When it’s possible, try to avoid email attachments. Pictures from friends and relatives seem safe but those PDF files or incorrect file extensions are often times virus files waiting to infect a poor unsuspecting computer. Never open an email attachment with a file extension VBS, SHS, PIF. These are almost never used by anyone other than people who write virus and Trojans. Other file extension such as NAME.BMP.EXE or NAME.TXT.VGS should also be red flags to you.
Another good idea is to delete those pesky email advertisements and unsolicited emails. Don’t let curiosity kill the computer. I known it’s hard not to open some of those emails but you could be making a huge mistake which will lead you right to the computer repair shop.
While you’re at it, try to avoid opening those ICON attachments. Worms often use executable files which have an icon resembling a picture to fool you.
One final item, if you really need to insert someone else’s memory stick please scan it before you open it. I just had a father bring me two notebooks and two flash drives to scan at the office. His daughter had all these nice pictures from her European vacation on the memory stick. After it didn’t open on her laptop she proceeded to try it on dad’s laptop. Two days later I saved all of those wonderful pictures and data from the computers and flash drives. Too bad dad was a few bucks lighter but that’s what we fathers are there for, right?
If you’re planning to be away from the computer for a few hours or days why not just shut the computer down. It saves energy, keeps you from having an issue if there is a freak thunder storm and keeps you off the internet where issues can develop.
Now that school is back in full swing lets do our best to keep the computer running so the kids can do their homework. The old story that the dog ate my homework doesn’t get much use anymore. Today it’s “my computer had a virus so I couldn’t do my report”.