While computer virus' have existed for decades, the advent of the Internet has really allowed virus' to flourish. These days, getting a virus on your pc is as simple as opening a bad email or visiting a non secure website. Virus' can do anything from erase your computer's hard drive, to installing monitoring software that sends information back to the virus' creator. Many viruses also use your computer as a venue to help spread the virus; so you could be accidently infecting your friends and family simply by sending them your standard daily emails.
Tips to Prevent Computer VirusesThe first and most obvious way to protect yourself is to always use a Virus scanner. There are many virus scanners out there, some cost money and some are free. Aside from the obvious, there are a few other things you can do to reduce your chances of getting a virus.
- Avoid using file sharing programs, especially ones that supply illegal music and software. It is extremely easy for shady people to package a virus or other harmful software with that free game you just downloaded.
- Avoid shady websites. Sites that promote illegal software such as 'warez' sites, free movie sites or free music sites have a really hard time finding legitimate advertising. Because of this they resort to some advertising methods that are not quite moral. You may be getting free software or movies from these sites, but you could also be getting a virus.
- Don't let children use computers unattended. Yea, it sounds like a pain in the butt, but children are more likely to just click 'yes' a bunch of times when prompted by Windows to do something. Often times these prompts are asking to install malicious software; children tend to be in a rush to get to their game or their web site and have a tendency to ignore these prompts. Pay attention and you can reduce the risk of your child infecting your computer.
- Don't open emails from people you don't know. If you have a virus scanner than allows you to scan an email prior to opening the email, run it on every email before you take a peek. Even if you do know somebody, they might not be quite as computer savvy as you and could be sending you a virus by accident.
- Be weary of instant messages from people you haven't talked to in a while. Every once in a while, I get a message from somebody I haven't spoke to in a while and they claim to be sending me a file they want me to look at. Generally, people you haven't spoke to in ages have no reason to send you files. They could either be infected with a virus and are trying to send you the same virus, or somebody has taken over their account and is trying to get you involved in something bad. If you are interested in accepting the file as you think it might be something legitimate try to get the person to tell you something that only your friend would know. You should only download the file once you've verified that they are actually sending you something legit should you download the file.
How to Detect if you have a VirusIt can happen to anybody; your computer has really slowed down, starts acting weird and you begin to think you've contracted a computer virus. Don't feel stupid as it even happens to the most technically savvy amongst us. If you don't already have a virus scanner I suggest installing one and scanning your computer for viruses. You could go out and buy Norton, or you could grab a copy of AVG's free virus scanner which actually works very well. You can get AVG Virus scanner for free at http://free.avg.com/
Once you've downloaded AVG, install the application and then make sure to update the software so you have all the latest virus definitions. Once you've updated it, run a full system scan. If you do have any virus' this should let you know and will most likely quarantine them. Conveniently, AVG also searches your computer for spyware and adware; so if it is not a virus slowing your computer down but some sort of malware, it will also conveniently take care of your other issues.
If all this is too much for you to handle, buy a Mac or get rid of Windows and install a Linux based operating system!