This article was inspired by an incident where a friend of mine had a really -infected- computer. Her computer was infected by literally thousands of viruses which where hiding in various files and programs. There was no antivirus installed and you couldn’t install or uninstall anything! This computer lasted over two years in that condition (!). So, I decided to show my dear friend how to protect her computer from hackers and other malicious threats. Now I will share these insights with you in order to help you protect yourself from the various internet threats.
First of all, always use anti-virus software. Even the free ones can meat basic safety needs. Some of the free anti-virus are considered better than the commercial ones so, not getting an anti-virus software these days because its costly, is not an excuse. In fact, there’s no excuse for this. If you don’t have such software installed you are definitely looking for trouble. Most of these software have the ability to -protect- in real time. Enabling this feature is a -must- for maximum protection.
Getting the anti-virus software and installing it is one thing and keeping it updated is another. This should be done frequently (every day). You want your software to be updated because there are new threats discovered every day and unless you are updated you cannot be safe. Most anti-virus software can be scheduled to automatically receive updates every few hours or so.
Many threats are hidden in e-mail messages. When you see an unknown e-mail (e.g. you don’t know the name of the sender or you are sure it’s spam) just delete it. Do not bother to open it. Also, don’t open e-mail attachments unless you are sure you know the sender. Watch out for images or files with weird extensions and names. E-mail attachments are a serious but underestimated internet threat and should be treated accordingly.
Perform regular virus scans. Once every two or three days or maybe once a week. It doesn’t really matter. Just do it in a timely manner to make sure everything is running smoothly and your computer is clean. The feeling you get when you discover that there’s no virus in your PC is great. You feel protected.
Avoid as much as you can the use of peer to peer (P2P) file sharing software. Ok, if you are careful enough, you can use P2P programs to safely download movies, songs and software but there’s always the possibility to download an infected file. For example, a song with a keystroke logger attached to it. This will send anything you type to another computer over the internet. The worst thing is that you cannot really tell when this is happening unless your anti-virus software detects the logger.
Be careful of those USB flash disks that travel from computer to computer. They can be infected in various ways so when you attach such a flash disk on your computer the first thing you should do is scan it thoroughly. Chances are you will find something threatening. Simply delete it, or quarantine any actions. Be careful what you transfer from the USB flash disk to your PC.
Watch out which websites you visit. If you want to watch porn then be warned that you will definitely infect your computer with some kind of virus or spyware no matter what you do. Except if you are a security freak and have increased the security levels to -maximum- through your anti-virus software interface in which case you will be informed that the page could be unsafe and could contain malicious stuff. You enter at your own risk.
Apart from using anti-virus software a good security idea would be to use a firewall. If you are lucky enough, your internet connection is already equipped with a hardware version of a firewall (common in wireless routers). If not, you can download and install a software version. The firewall simply limits the number of ports that are open to the public, thus preventing hackers from gaining access to your computer.
These are only a few ideas for increased computer security against internet threats like hackers, viruses, spyware etc. In order to gain full level of protection it is recommended to learn all possible threats and then take security measures to prevent the dangers from completing their evil work. You can do it. The average internet user can perform these tasks quite easily and the reward is ultimate, complete security. Good luck!