January 5, 2012*

Spotlight

10 Tips to Protect Your Computers from Viruses

Sometimes viruses are simply a hassle and time-consumer. In the worst cases they can mean a total reinstallation of your operating system—and sometimes damage to your hardware.

With the preponderance of virus threats, it’s a good time to revisit your company’s virus and malware protection. While the only absolute defense is to totally unplug from the Internet, here are some tips that can lessen the odds of infection.

  1. Delete unknown emails: Seems like a no-brainer, but people who make a career out of spreading viruses have become pretty sophisticated in disguising the emails they send. Bottom line: Delete all emails from unknown sources, and never download or open an attachment unless you are sure it’s from someone you know.
  2. Update your software: Keep all of your software up-to-date, especially your Windows operating system. Keep Automated Updates turned on to download and install updates automatically.
  3. Only install software from trusted sources: Stay away from downloads from unknown sites. If you are asked to install other programs to ensure another piece of software works, stop and do a bit more research. In many cases, additional programs contain spyware.
  4. Run virus scans habitually: Set up a schedule for your computer to run antivirus software. Do scans late at night or whenever you don’t use your computer, as it will run slower. Everyday scans are best, but at the very least do it once a week.
  5. Back up your drives: CD-writers make it easy and relatively cheap to back-up your hard drives and network drives. Or, you can automate your back-ups with back-up software.
  6. Activate your firewall: A firewall limits the ports on your network that are open to the public, so having one in place is critical. If you use a wireless router, make sure it has a built-in firewall. A software and hardware firewall is more effective than just having one or the other. Read about firewall best practices.
  7. Lock your wireless network: Wireless routers usually have no security settings in place when you install them. You must log in and at the very least establish a basic, password-required security setting to prevent others from gaining access to your network.
  8. Steer clear of P2P file sharing: Some people with savvy tech skills can download P2P files without incident, but if you aren’t careful you might end up downloading a file with a keystroke logger attached. Keystroke loggers can transfer anything you type on your computer to another computer, and are difficult to detect without a quality antivirus or anti-spyware program in place.
  9. Stay away from trashy websites: There’s no other way to say it. If you look at trashy websites, you will get a virus or spyware, period.
  10. Install software that takes snapshots of your system: Regular snapshots of your system can help you analyze for infected files or changes in your system or drivers. It’s also a helpful tool to recall and recover all of your files in the event of a crash.

To ensure your system is virus-protected, get help from experts listed on Pinpoint.

*This article was originally published April 30, 2009.