If you ever had to deal with a computer virus or malware than you know how annoying and potentially disastrous it can be. But what exactly is malware? Malware is the abbreviation for “malicious software“. It is software that has the unique purpose of getting installed on your computer to perform some malicious activity without your knowledge. This activity can range from annoying ads being placed on your web browser to something more sinister like registering key strokes so as to gain access to personal accounts online, to taking over the computer or worse. No matter what the malware is designed to do, the intent is always to cause harm or illegally profit in some way from the victim. Malware has also paved the way to RansomWare, where the victim is extorted money in order to have the malicious software removed without losing precious data. Here are some main ways to prevent malware.
Keep Back Ups of All Your Files
Before anything else, you should be backing up your files. You can use an external hard drive. This is important not just in case of malware infection but also anytime there is a major accident such as hardware failure, accidental drop or liquid getting into the system, etc.
Install Anti-Virus/Malware Software
This should go without saying but it so often overlooked, especially by home computer users. This is the first step of defense.
Keep Your Anti-Virus/Malware Software Up-to-date
The only way anti-virus/malware software is of any true protection is if it is updated on a regular basis. This is because viruses and malware change over time and your protection software needs to be kept up-to-date with the latest threats.
Run Scans of Your Computer on a Regular Basis
You can never be too safe and it is a good idea to do periodic scans of your system in case some malware might have snuck through via an installed software, email, or another way. Daily is best but you can do it semi-weekly or weekly, depending on your computer usage habits.
Install the Latest Updates to Your Operating System
OS (Operating System) vendors, such as Microsoft and Apple, stay on top of security holes and plug those with new updates. When an update is released for your OS make sure you download it and install it asap. This is important since malware programmers constantly search for new ways to penetrate the OS installed on your system.
Make Sure Your Network is Secure
Never allow your network to be accessible to everyone. The key way to prevent this is to have a well chosen secure password and to change it periodically. Use WPA or WPA2 encryption.
Avoid Open Wi-Fi Networks
If a restaurant, cafe, or shop have an open Wi-Fi network that does not require a password, it makes it super easy for malicious individuals to access it and “listen” for data transfer. It is especially dangerous to access any of your accounts via http over open Wi-Fi.
Use Different Strong Passwords
Don’t use easy to guess passwords just because they are are easy for you to remember. Easy to guess passwords include initials, birthdates, pet names, family member names, etc. Use passwords that combine uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters (such as *%#’, etc.) The more you combine these the stronger the password. Don’t use the same password for all of your accounts.
Be Careful What You Click On
Don’t be quick to click on email attachments, even if they come from someone you know (their email account may have been hacked). If you don’t know the sender, then it is a given that you should not click on the attachment. If it is from someone you know but you were not expecting the attachment, confirm with them first before you click on it. When it is a link on a website, hover over it first to reveal the link address. If you are not convinced that it is going to a safe site, don’t click on it. If it looks funny to you, like words you don’t recognize or don’t make sense together, it is best not to click on it.
These are some of the most common ways to prevent malware from getting into your system. If you know of others that have worked for you, please let us know below. We will keep you updated as we learn of new additional ways to keep you safe from malware and viruses.