With the Covid-19 pandemic still looming, everyone is taking greater caution with their online safety. But defending ourselves online against malicious software and viruses doesn’t begin and end with the coronavirus. Cyberattacks of varying force and intensity happen every day, with viruses being the most common form of malicious software used by hackers.
That’s why it’s important to protect yourself from viruses. And while being vigilant of phishing scams and unsolicited emails is part of the equation, there’s a lot more to know when it comes to keeping your digital devices safe. To that end, here are 10 best practices you should follow to protect yourself from viruses.
Antivirus software is essential for defending computer systems from malicious viruses, worms, and other threats that can cause damage to your precious files and data. Keeping up to date antivirus protection on all of your devices may feel like a chore, but it’s an important one nonetheless.
While most security experts recognize the importance of running antivirus software, some tech gurus wonder if it’s worth using. They argue that with so much focus on security PCs now have built-in protection by default. But just because users have Windows Defender or similar preinstalled protections doesn’t mean they should ignore additional security measures. The reason is simple: while these programs come at no extra cost, their level of protection usually isn’t as comprehensive as tools offered by companies like Norton or McAfee.
Many popular antivirus services offer a variety of extra features such as browser extensions to block intrusive ads or tools to clean up junk files on your hard drive. Such cybersecurity suites are designed to make PCs more secure and improve device performance as well, making them useful even in this age of locked down digital devices.
- According to a 2019 study by Norton by Symantec, nearly 60% of global Internet users have had at least one PC infected with malicious software in the last year.
- The same study found that using two or more security products on each device can provide protection against newly emerging threats that may not be detected by single antivirus solutions.
- As well as installing and running a reputable antivirus product, researchers advise regular updates to operating systems, applications and firewalls; downloading from trusted sources; being cautious when opening emails from unknown senders and exercising good judgment when visiting websites.
How to Choose an Antivirus Program
Choosing the right antivirus program isn’t an easy task. With so many vendors and different levels of protection, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you. It’s important to consider both sides of the argument when making your decision. Free antivirus programs can provide basic protection for your device, but paid antivirus programs are often more comprehensive and effective. Some people believe that a free program provides enough protection since most malware threats can be blocked by simply using good computer hygiene practices.
The decision will rest with you and how much protection you need. If you know that your device usage behavior puts you in a position where sophisticated attackers may try to target you with zero-day malwares or targeted attacks, then you should likely seek out commercial solutions with advanced heuristic analysis capabilities or secure sandboxing technology. If you mostly just access common websites and services with basic browsing activities, a free solution may be enough to protect your data and devices from standard viruses and other malwares.
Preventative measures are the most proactive way to protect yourself from viruses. While choosing an antivirus program is important, there are several other precautions which should be taken to protect your computer, such as avoiding downloading software or clicking on links from unknown sources. Some may suggest disabling auto-run features and turning off script interpreters, however it has been argued that these measures have a only small impact on protecting you from malicious programs such as viruses. Recent evidence suggests that these measures do not provide sufficient protection for users and disabling the approaches may even leave devices more exposed to malware threats. The best approach seems to be recognizing potential threats before they become a problem, by avoiding any type of download from sites you don’t recognize or trust.
To truly ensure that your devices are free of malicious software, it’s important to make sure your computer’s software is updated regularly. Updating your software includes not only the operating system, but also all applications and drivers installed on your computer which can expose security vulnerabilities if they are left outdated.
Updating Your Computer’s Software
Updating your computer’s software is a critical preventative measure that can be taken to protect yourself from viruses. Keeping operating systems, applications, and security software updates ensures they have the most recent bug fixes and security patches. Software updates can also add new features which may improve system performance or usability. Most software allows for automatic updates, so you don’t need to think about it as long as you have a reliable internet connection.
While updating software benefits greatly mitigate virus threats, there are drawbacks to consider. If you are running an older version of windows, certain apps might not function properly if they weren’t designed to be compatible with the latest version. Large updates take time to install, often using a significant amount of data and resources on your device. You may also encounter compatibility issues with drivers or other apps. Some updates may require a license or involve buying a new product altogether.
Updating your computer’s software is a highly recommended practice that should be done often to avoid the risks associated with viruses and other malicious software. While there are potential drawbacks to consider, the benefits certainly outweigh the costs in this case. To further ensure safety while browsing online, it is important to take additional measures when accessing the internet such as having an up-to-date antivirus program installed or using a browser that gives you extra protection against malicious sites and phishing scams.
Accessing the Internet
When accessing the internet, it is important to be vigilant and protect both your data and device. While the internet can be a powerful tool that allows users to conduct research, communicate and enjoy entertainment, it can also create risks as any time you are connected to the network, you are vulnerable. There are two schools of thought concerning how to safely access the web: 1) use only secure websites (e.g., HTTPS), and 2) always use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
Using secure websites (e.g., HTTPS) ensures your data is encrypted while passing through a web server in transit, meaning hackers would only be able to see encrypted characters which they would not be able to decode. This makes it harder for hackers to intercept your data and use it for malicious purposes. Reputable websites will often have a padlock icon symbolizing that the website is using encryption technology as another layer of security when transferring information. PayPal uses its own proprietary encryption technology known as “Secure Sockets Layer” (SSL).
VPNs are widely used for protecting personal information when accessing public Wi-Fi networks or for bypassing geo blocked content. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel between your device and the VPN server making it harder for hackers to eavesdrop on your connection or steal your data. This can also help prevent websites from tracking your activity on the Internet which can be helpful in some countries where IP addresses are monitored more heavily by authorities.
Using Safe Protocols for Data Transfer
Secure data transfer protocols are essential for preventing viruses from being saved or shared. It is important to use secure protocols, such as SFTP and FTPS on FTP servers and SSH for telnet sessions whenever possible so that attackers have less opportunity to access unencrypted data. Email methods, like secure POP3, should also be preferred over the more commonly used SMTP protocol, as it encrypts all messages before transmission.
Some might argue that standard protocols are just fine when transferring data and implementing secure protocols is not necessary. This is incorrect, as more and more targeted attacks result in stolen passwords and confidential information every day because attackers were able to enter an unprotected network by exploiting holes in the security protocols being used. Using a secure protocol is one of easiest steps users can take to protect their data from breaches and other malicious activities. Any company or user who values the security of its information should make sure they are using secure protocols whenever possible.
Keeping Your Network Secure
When it comes to protecting yourself from viruses, keeping your network secure is of paramount importance. By utilizing the appropriate tools and safeguards, you can help to ensure that unauthorized access to sensitive data is minimized and that any attempted intrusions are caught quickly.
One way to keep your network secure is by using a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs provide an encrypted tunnel between two or more devices on a network, creating a secure connection over an unsecured public internet. This helps prevent any malicious actors from snooping for data sent through the connection. Many VPN services also offer additional features, such as firewalls, which add another layer of protection against potential threats.
Another way to secure your network is by using two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA requires users to provide two different methods of identity verification before logging in. If accessing a web service, the user may have to enter a username and password along with an authentication code that is sent via text message or an authentication app. This helps protect against anyone attempting to gain access to the service with stolen login credentials.
A third method of enhancing network security is by utilizing encryption on all data sent across the network. Encryption ensures that transmitted data remains secure and private, even if someone were able to intercept it. This includes email messages, file transfers, and any other communication sent across the network. Various encryption protocols exist but be sure to select one that complies with applicable laws and regulations for optimal security.
Practicing good cyber hygiene can also help keep your networks safe from threats; this means regularly performing server updates and patch management for both hardware and software applications on all devices connected to the network. Ensure that each device on the network has up-to-date antivirus software installed for maximum protection against malicious activity.
By following best practices for keeping your network secure– such as using VPNs, 2FA, encryption protocols, and good cyber hygiene techniques– you can help prevent unauthorized access from potentially taking place and ensure that any sensitive data remains protected from malicious actors.
How can I tell if my device has been infected with a virus?
It can be difficult to tell if your device has been infected with a virus, but there are several warning signs to watch out for. Look for any unexpected or suspicious changes in performance. If your device is suddenly running slower than usual or programs are crashing for no apparent reason, this could be a sign that you have contracted a virus. You should also be on the lookout for new programs appearing or programs you didn’t install running in the background; these are often indicators of malicious software. Pay attention to any unsolicited pop-ups or messages asking you to perform certain actions; this is often a sign of malicious activity. If you’re unsure if your device has been infected with a virus, it’s always best to run a virus scan with an up-to-date antivirus program to be sure.
What steps can I take to reduce the chances of my device being infected with a virus?
1. Make sure you install security software and keep it up-to-date: Security software, like antivirus and anti-malware applications, are key tools for protecting against virus threats. Make sure to regularly update the software to stay protected from the latest threats on the internet.
2. Don’t click suspicious links: Be careful what links you click when browsing online. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know with a link attached, don’t click it. It may contain malicious code or take you to websites loaded with malicious software.
3. Avoid downloading files from unfamiliar sources: Downloading files from unknown or untrusted sources is an easy way to risk getting an infection. To decrease the risk of this happening, make sure that any file downloads come from reliable sources, preferably ones that offer direct downloads or have been tested by trusted third-party vendors.
4. Keep all your apps and operating system up-to-date: Staying up-to-date on all app updates can help reduce your chances of infecting your device with a virus as updated versions often come with added security features that can help protect you against new dangers and threats. Make sure all your components of your operating systems are always running the latest version (e.g., Windows update).
5. Use stronger passwords: When it comes to passwords, longer strings of characters is better than short ones and using a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols helps strengthen them even further and make them harder for hackers to crack. Make sure each app or service that requires logins has its own unique password; this helps reduce the risk of being compromised by a virus if one platform gets infected because other accounts are still safe due to the different passwords used for them.
What measures can I take to protect my device against viruses?
1. Begin by keeping your operating system and all software up to date. Install the latest security updates as soon as they become available, as these often contain important bug fixes and security patches that can protect your device from viruses.
2. Use a quality anti-virus/anti-malware software to monitor your device for any malicious activity or incoming threats. Make sure to regularly scan your computer using this software, as it will help detect any potential viruses or malware before they can do any damage.
3. Remain cautious when downloading programs, especially those from unfamiliar sites or those with suspicious URLs. Always double check the source of any file or application you download and make sure it comes from a reliable website before installing it onto your device.
4. Avoid clicking on suspicious links in emails or online, as this could redirect you to malicious websites that are designed specifically for phishing attacks or downloading viruses onto your device. If something seems too good to be true (such as an offer for free money) then it probably is – don’t click on it!
5. Refrain from opening email attachments unless you are absolutely sure of their origin and safety; even if it appears to be from someone you know and trust, always verify with them first before opening it.
6. Be mindful of what you’re posting on social media, as many cybercriminals use social media platforms to distribute malicious files or links. Go through your privacy settings and make sure that only friends and connections that you know can view your posts and content.
7. Keep multiple backups of any important data stored on your device, in the event that something unexpected happens and the data is lost due to a virus infection. Store these backups either on an external hard drive or in the cloud (if possible).
8. Regularly clear out cookies or other tracking files from your web browser, as these can contain malicious code that could be used to infect your system with a virus.
9. Exercise caution when using public Wi-Fi networks, as these are not always secure and could leave you vulnerable to hacking attempts or downloading viruses without knowing about them until it’s too late. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) whenever you connect to such networks.
10. Use strong passwords for all accounts – try creating passphrases instead of shorter passwords that can easily be guessed – and enable two-factor authentication if possible, which adds an extra layer of security when logging into sensitive accounts