The online world is an amazing place. More and more of us are now using the Internet to research, learn, work, shop, bank, play games, download music and films, meet new people and connect with old friends. Whilst the Internet presents a myriad of enchanting opportunities, benefits and conveniences, some caution should be exercised when online. Amongst the other dangers online, it is important to ensure you are fully aware of, and protected against, what can be vicious computer viruses.
A computer virus is a self-replicating computer programme that installs itself without the user’s permission. Viruses – which are given many different names including ‘malware’ and ‘spyware’ – generally slow down the computer’s operating system and stop it from working properly. New viruses appear daily; for example, an average of 15,000 new viruses were detected every day in 2013.
Whilst some viruses are noticeable to the computer, many run in the background unnoticed by the users. Viruses often steal hosts hard disk space and memory, access private information (such as passwords and bank details), corrupt data, spam their contacts and log their keystrokes.
Fear not, however, there are precautions you can take to protect your computer and ensure safe browsing. Here are our tips for Virus Detection and Prevention.
Use your computer’s ‘firewall’: your computer’s built-in firewall will keep some viruses out so make sure it is turned on.
Install anti-virus protection: it is an absolute necessity to install anti-virus software which, provided it is kept up-to-date, will usually defend your computer against most other threats. Antivirus programmes scan for viruses trying to get into your email, operating system or files.
You can buy anti-virus protection from a computer shop or it can be downloaded online (sometimes for free). Once installed, the software will protect against new viruses with regular updates. These may occur automatically or you will be prompted to install them. As aforementioned, new viruses appear daily so it is important to keep your anti-virus protection up to date.
Keep your computer updated: Microsoft and Apple release security updates that can help protect your computer. It is important to make sure that your computer’s automatic updating settings are on and to properly shut your computer down so that these updates take place.
Do not open any files attached to an email from an unknown, suspicious or untrustworthy source. Also, do not open any files attached to an email if the subject line is questionable or unexpected.
Exercise caution when downloading files from the Internet. Ensure that the source is legitimate and reputable. Ensure that your antivirus programme checks the files on the download site.
Back up your files on a regular basis. If a virus destroys your files, at least you can replace them with your back-up copy.
In general, if in doubt, watch out and do not open, download, or execute any files or email attachments.