With millions of computer users browsing the web at any given time, there are plenty of targets for malicious coders. While computer experts don’t always know why coders choose to build harmful computer programs, the fact is that it happens all the time. Computer viruses can steal personal information, interfere with normal operations, attract spam and even shut down your computer’s hard drive. Protecting your computer is critical for browsing success.
Start With the Basics
Most computer systems come with security features already in place. For example, the Windows operating system is packaged with Microsoft Windows Security Center. When you first open, boot up and register a new computer, you should make sure that this program is functioning. It will give basic protection against spyware, viruses and malware. In addition, a basic firewall is built into this program, providing additional protection and stops for potentially harmful programs. Upon activation, don’t be surprised if your security system needs immediate updating. Software that protects your computer needs regular and consistent updating to stay useful. Viruses are constantly being generated and the several-month lag between when your computer was made and when you first started using it can mean that the database the security system is loaded with is severely out-of-date.
Upgrade to Meet Your Needs
Many people operate computers for a long time with only basic protection in place. However, heavy computer users or those who have risky browsing habits can sometimes benefit from upgrading their virus, spyware and malware protection, as well as using a fuller-featured firewall; this is especially important if you use a networked computer system. Basic or free virus protection will still scan and update for viruses. Paid programs, however, offer more features, including ease-of-use and convenience features. The most important thing is to verify the publisher and make sure you are getting what is promised. Most well-known virus protection programs, such as AVG and Norton Security, have reviews available to help you make your choice.
Learn About Spyware Risks
Spyware creates risks that many computer users are not aware of. If you are only protecting against viruses, you could be leaving your computer open to damage. Most people are familiar with spyware that initiates and attracts annoying ad programs. Spyware, however, can be much more malicious as well. Your shopping habits can be tracked by spyware. While not exactly harmful, some people consider this a breach of privacy. The worst spyware programs interfere with normal operations and can even track what you type, sending personal information to people who want to steal your identity. Some spyware redirects your browser to different web addresses, increasing your risks of virus infection and fraud.
How Viruses Work
The main difference between spyware and viruses is how they are spread. A virus reproduces itself and attaches to any document that the computer sends, while spyware can be stored as a cookie or tracking code. A virus is most often found traveling with a piece of computer software, such as a document, picture or piece of music. When dealing with email, it is necessary to open an attachment to become infected, indicating that, in most cases, the computer user must somehow invite the malicious software to replicate on their system. Of course, most people have no idea it is there or what is happening. Some of the sneakiest and most harmful viruses actually masquerade as virus protection software, making them extremely hard to detect. Because of this, it’s crucial to be familiar with your particular virus protection program and know what it looks like and what the normal scripts and prompts are during operation. Viruses do some of the same things that spyware does; they just accomplish it differently. An active virus can steal personal information, generate ads or shut down your system, including the very virus protection programs that can fix the issue.
Take Steps For Protection
Like anything, the best way to protect against viruses is to be educated. Become familiar with what malicious software may look like. If you get an email or are asked to download a file that you don’t recognize or looks suspicious, do your homework. Research virus protection, spyware, malware and firewall programs and use them to their fullest capacity. Set the software to update and scan automatically to make sure that the system is constantly monitored. In addition, regularly check on the databases published by various virus protection services; many will provide lists of symptoms and risks, as well as the standard way the file gains access for no cost to the public.