Monday, August 24, 2009

8 Ways to Avoid Viruses and Spyware

It’s a dangerous world out there on the Internet. There are all kinds of nasty viruses lurking, waiting to infect your computer and cause you all kinds of problems. So, how bad is it out there?
Google Research suggests that one in every 10 Web sites is infected with "drive-by" malware. In June 2009, the Windows Secrets e-newsletter reported that such seemingly safe Web sites as Coldwell,, and even were exposing Internet Explorer visitors to the Gumblar exploit, which threatens to compromise visitors' systems in order to propagate.
To have a fighting chance against these nasty viruses, and spyware threats, we have to stay informed and be proactive. Here are some practical guidelines you can follow to minimize the risk of computer infection.
1: Install quality antivirus
So you think your free antivirus program (such as those included with an Internet service provider's bundled service offering), is sufficient to protect your computer from a virus or spyware infection? The truth is free antivirus programs typically don't provide adequate protection from the ever-growing list of threats. Instead purchase a commercial grade antivirus program and then deploy enhanced features like automatic updates, (thereby providing timely protection against fast-emerging vulnerabilities) and custom scans.

2: Install real-time anti-spyware protection

Hybrid antivirus programs with integrated spyware protection will not provide sufficient protection from adware and spyware. The same thing applies to using a free anti-spyware application along with an antivirus utility. Both cases fail to deliver adequate protection from the skyrocketing number of spyware threats.
The problem is most free anti-spyware programs is that they don't provide real-time or active protection from adware, Trojan, and other spyware infections. Many free programs can detect spyware threats once they've infected your computer. However, professional (or fully paid and licensed) anti-spyware programs can prevent infections and fully remove infections already present. So purchase the fully licensed versions of anti-spyware software.

3: Keep anti-malware applications current

In early 2009, antivirus provider AVG released statistics revealing that a lot of serious computer threats are secretive and fast-moving. Many of these infections are short-lived, but they're estimated to infect as many as 100,000 to 300,000 new Web sites a day. Those threats are spreading with alarming speed; thanks to the popularity of such social media sites as Twitter, Facebook, and My Space.
The problem is antivirus and anti-spyware programs require regular updates. Without these critical updates, anti-malware programs are unable to protect PCs from the latest threats.
So keep your antivirus and anti-spyware applications up to date. Take the necessary precautions to prevent license expiration; thereby ensuring that your anti-malware programs stay current and continue providing protection against the most recent threats.

4: Perform daily scans

Sometimes, virus and spyware threats escape your antivirus’ protective engines and infect your computer. The large volume of new threats makes it possible for a sneaky virus to slip past your security software. In other cases, we may inadvertently configure our anti-malware software to allow a virus or spyware program to run.
The best thing to do is to enable a daily scan of your computer's entire hard drive. By doing this you’re adding another layer of protection. These daily scans can be invaluable in detecting, isolating, and removing infections that escape your security software's defense.

5: Disable autorun

I know autorun is convenient, but many viruses work by attaching themselves to a drive and automatically installing themselves on to any other media connected to the system. As a result, connecting any network drive, external hard disk, or even a thumb drive to your computer can cause the automatic spreading of a virus.
You can disable the Windows autorun feature by following Microsoft's recommendations, which differ by operating system. Microsoft Knowledge Base articles 967715 and 967940 are frequently referenced for this purpose.

6: Disable image previews in Outlook

We all know that spam and junk mail can contain nasty viruses. However, some email threats are embedded in the graphics of e-mails. When you have the Outlook preview enabled, that virus hiding in the graphic is launched. Prevent automatic infections by disabling image previews in Outlook.
By default, newer versions of Microsoft Outlook do not automatically display images. But if you or another user has changed the default security settings, you can switch them back (using Outlook 2007) by going to Tools | Trust Center, highlighting the Automatic Download option, and selecting Don't Download Pictures Automatically In HTML E-Mail Messages Or RSS.

7: Don't click on email links or attachments

We’ve heard this a thousand times: Don't click on email links or attachments. Yet we almost always forget to heed this simple warning.
Sometimes we get distracted, become trustful of friends, or colleagues we know, or simply get fooled by a crafty email messages. Be wary of links and attachments included within email messages, regardless of the source. Simply clicking on an email link or attachment can, within minutes, corrupt Windows, infect other machines, and destroy critical data.
Never click on email attachments without first scanning them for viruses. As for clicking on links, we should access web sites by opening a browser and manually navigating to the web site in question.

8: Surf smart

Many popular web browsers have plug-ins that help protect against drive-by infections, phishing attacks (in which pages purport to serve one function when in fact they try to steal personal, financial, or other sensitive information), and "link protection," in which Web links are checked against databases of known-bad pages.
You should ensure these protective features are enabled in your web browser. The only exception is if the plug-in interferes with normal Web browsing. The same is true for automatic pop-up blockers included in Internet Explorer 8, Google's toolbar, and other popular browser toolbars.
You should never enter your account, personal, financial, or other sensitive information on any Web page at that you haven’t manually arrived at. You should instead open a Web browser, enter the address of the page you need to go to, and then enter your information. The Internet scammer sends us a hyperlink and we assume the link will direct us to the proper web site. Hyperlinks contained within an e-mail message often redirect us to fraudulent, fake, or unauthorized Web sites. By entering Web addresses manually, we can ensure that we are going to the real web site.
The Internet will always have malicious viruses, and other threats. Using these guidelines will go a long way toward protecting your computer from those Internet threats.

1 comment:

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



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