Virus Knowledge for Less Technical Users

If you are like me, you may not understand all the ins and outs of adware, malware, spyware and every “ware” in between. Here at Flexiss, I work with all computer geeks, er … computer-knowledgeable web designers. The bottom line is I find that what is common knowledge to them isn’t for me. I’m the administrative manager here, not the technological guru of all-knowing malware greatness.

So for all of us adware-challenged folks, I’ve simplified a technical article, 10 Ways to Avoid Viruses and Spyware. Continue reading below for the easier to understand version, or if you think you can tackle the more involved jargon, click on the above title to read the full article.

  1. Not all antivirus applications are alike. Even in a slow economy, this is an area where free is not ultimately beneficial. Do not rely on the free-anti-malware for complete protection. The list of computer threats changes frequently, so invest in an antivirus program that provides frequent updates safeguarding against a wide range of threats.
  2. Real-Time protection is key. A difference between free anti-spyware programs and a professional paid and licensed program is what is called “real-time” protection. It’s ongoing and active. Rather than detecting spyware once it’s already invaded your system, select an anti-virus program that works in real-time to prevent infections.
  3. Anticipate upcoming expiration dates. With social media sites running rampant, the threats to computer users spread like wild fire. If your license expires and your application is not current, you are floating in raging ocean waters with no motor or paddle … not a place you want to be. So know when your anti-virus programs expire and be diligent of keeping them up to date.
  4. A scan a day keeps the viruses away. A good quality anti-virus program allows you to schedule automatic daily scans. Take advantage of this feature! Schedule the scan for a time you know you will be on the computer each day. Then allow it to run in the background while you work.
  5. Say “No” to Autorun. Some threats are set up to automatically attack external hard disks, thumb drives, or network drives. So disable the Windows autorun feature by following Microsoft’s recommendations under their help and support section.
  6. Disable automatic display images in Outlook. Something as simple as an infected email message with graphic codes can cause a virus. To disable image previews in Outlook, go to “Tools,” “Options,” and click on the “Security” tab. Make sure to check the box for “Don’t Download Pictures Automatically in HTML messages.”
  7. Beware of the attachments and links. You’ve heard it said continually to not open attachments from unknown individuals. There is another area to be careful with as well — clicking on links within an email. This simple click could infect your machine and destroy your data. Choose instead to navigate to the website manually.
  8. Be a smart surfer. Take advantage of the browser plug-ins that professional anti-virus programs provide. There are many drive-by threats you will unknowingly encounter when you surf the internet. The plug-ins are designed to safeguard against these threats. Also, leave your automatic pop-up blockers enabled.
  9. Use a hardware-based firewall. Very simply put … hardware-based firewalls are harder to break through than software-based firewalls. Plus, they don’t bog down your computer’s resources. However, be aware that a hardware-based firewall is not a replacement for the software based version as they each have their specific purposes.
  10. DNS Protection. Virus infections can happen just by simply visiting a compromised web page. Some are DNS (Domain Name System) attacks that direct you to an unauthorized website. Check out the free DNS services through OpenDNS to learn more about how you can protect against those types of attacks.
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