Being a software engineer, I get called quite often by friends or family to help them with a virus problem. In these instances, we can almost always get the virus removed. However, removing a virus can be a real time waster, even for tech experts. One of odd things about this is that I rarely, if ever, have to remove viruses from any of my personal computers. I think that their are some distinct reasons why I am able to avoid getting a computer virus. In this post, I am going to give you some of my personal tips so you never get a virus again.
Install a Good Antivirus Software and Keep it Up to Date
If you don’t have antivirus software installed, then you need to get on this right away. I personally prefer to use a free antivirus. I believe many of the free anti-virus software packages are pretty good. If you want to stick with a free anti-virus, I would recommend AVG, Microsoft Security Essentials, Panda or even Avast! Free antivirus. The second part of this is that you need to keep this software up to date. Most good antivirus software will automatically update themselves. However, it is a good idea to check that this is happening. When it comes to scanning, it is a good idea to scan every week or so. By keeping your virus protection software up to date and by scanning often, you can make sure you catch any threats before they can wreak havoc on your PC.
My Secret Weapon: Malwarebytes
Most people I talk to don’t know about malwarebytes. Malwarebytes specializes in finding and removing malware with little effort. Malwarebytes is often able to find and remove malware that my primary virus protection software isn’t even able to detect. Personally, I subscribe to Malwarebytes Pro. It is pretty inexpensive and provides a great service. Personally, I use a free antivirus software and then pair this with Malwarebytes Pro. I find that this is less expensive and provides better protection when compared to paying for an antivirus like Norton or Symantec. So, generally speaking, I recommend that you consider going with a free antivirus like Panda, MSE, or Avast and then pairing it with Malwarebytes Pro. Just like an anti-virus software, the key here is that you keep the software up to date and that you run a scan every few weeks.
Be Careful When Opening and Clicking Links Within Emails
Opening a bad attachment or directly clicking on a virus in an email are two really common ways to get a virus. There are quite a few ways to avoid this. First, be really careful opening emails that have attachments from people you don’t know. Second, if you open an email, you don’t recognize the sender, and the email itself doesn’t make any sense, don’t click on any of the links in the email. In this case, it is best to just delete the email and move on. Last, if you are not with a solid email provider like GMail, Yahoo Mail, etc, then you may want to think about switching. These services do a great job of filtering out any viruses before they even get to your inbox.
Be Careful When Browsing the Internet
Another really common place to get a virus is from a bad website. We have all been there, we have clicked on a link or a result in Google search and we end up at a website that just doesn’t look trustworthy. These bad sites will often have a number of popups, try to get you to download files, and won’t even let you click the back button. In most cases, you are still OK. However, what you do next may determine if you get a virus or not.
First, see if you can go back or even see if you can close out the browser window. If it doesn’t let you, you can try to close any popups or notifications using the “X” or the cancel button. If you still can’t get away from the bad site, you can use the task manager by pressing CTRL+ALT+DEL to manually close your browser task. The big key here is that you don’t download and install anything. Most browsers today will ask if you are sure that you want to continue with a download. This is where you make your last stand against the virus.
Next, it is best to avoid certain types of sites. First of all, it is recommended that you avoid public torrent sites. These are well-known virus farms. You also want to be careful around any type of adult sites or any low quality streaming sites. I am not talking about YouTube. I am talking about sites that stream a specific TV show or channel illegally. These types of sites can contain malware as well.
Be really careful around these. Keep an eye out for these on sites that you particularly don’t trust. Also, while on the topic, don’t fall for the “Your computer is infected” ads or popups. These are usually a trick to get you to download a virus. If you see one of these and you are unsure, close it, then open up your virus protection software and run a scan. This will tell you if you are truly infected or not.
Be Careful When Downloading Programs or Files
There are many times when you really just need to download a program or file from the Internet. If you do this correctly, then there is no issue. However, the key here is that when you download something, make sure it is from a trusted source. Downloading software directly from the software manufacturers website is one good tip. For example, if you need to download iTunes, download it from Apple itself, not some third party distributor. The only time you should download from a third party site is when the site itself links to the third party site for the download.
By following the tips and advice above, hopefully you will never get a virus again.