If left unchecked, a computer virus can disrupt performance, compromise personal information or even destroy your hard drive. Practicing some simple safety strategies can help avoid virus infections and protect your computer from potential harm. As an extra precaution, always back up your computer’s important files to limit the damage a virus may cause if you do get one.
Here are a few ways that you might limit your chances of infecting your PC with a virus
Installing a trusted anti-virus program should be your first line of defense in fighting virus infections. A good anti-virus program will guard against Trojan horses, worms, spyware and other forms of harmful malware. For optimum protection, make certain to keep the software up to date and to perform regular security scans to detect potential threats before they become problems.
Using both a software firewall and a hardware firewall can greatly reduce the risk of virus infection. Firewalls act as security gates, preventing viruses and other threats from passing through to your computer. While many anti-virus programs may offer some form of firewall protection, they can only protect the one computer running the software. A hardware firewall like a typical broadband router can protect all computers on a shared network. Hardware firewalls offer an extra level of protection that can be the difference in avoiding virus contamination.
Viruses often spread through emails. Downloading an attachment or clicking a link in an email are two common ways to acquire a virus infection. Never accept files or click links from unknown senders. Even opening a strange email can be dangerous if your email client allows for scripting and HTML messages. For improved security, only view email messages as plain text files.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter may be breeding grounds for viruses. Spammers often post strange links on Facebook timelines or send messages with links to malware, child pornography and other illegal content. Adjusting your Facebook security settings to limit page access and prohibit unapproved posts can eliminate the majority of threats. Other social sites like chat rooms and community message boards may also be used to spread viruses. Never click on links or accept files that have been shared throughout the community, as they could have picked up infections along the way. Even trusted friends could be unwittingly sharing corrupted files.
Visiting adult websites or illegal downloading sites like Pirate Bay that circumvent music and movie copyright laws may leave your computer vulnerable to viruses. Several popular search engines or even certain anti-virus programs can help identify dangerous sites, helping you steer clear of potential trouble. Many infected sites will trigger pop-up warnings claiming that your computer has already been infected and may offer help in scanning your hard drive. Never click any of the available options, as it will trigger the virus and infect your computer. If all else fails, press “Ctrl-Alt-Del” to bring up the Task Manager and then force close the browser