Web Tips & Articles

Avoid Virus Infections on your Computer

There are many actions you can take and good habits you can develop to keep viruses off your computer. Following are a few tips.

TIP # 1

Never, never, never open documents attached to emails or click on links in emails from people you don't know! Be suspicious of emails from friends that look a bit strange too. If their email has been hacked, exploiters may use their address book to contact all their friends, sending a malicious link in an email to you.

When in doubt, don't click!

TIP # 2

Change your Windows settings so that you can see the true file extensions. In Windows 10:

  1. Click Start and then click File Explorer.
  2. Click the View tab in File Explorer and then click the Options button (or click the drop down menu and click Change folder and search options)
  3. Click the View tab at the top of Folder Options.
  4. Put a check in the box next to "File name extensions".

File Name Extensions

And presto ... you can see that the supposedly safe letter.doc file has been changed to a harmful letter.doc.pif file and is not so harmless after all! Never click on a file that ends in .exe or .pif or .vbs or other file formats you are not familiar with, many of these files launch programs and could affect your computer in some negative way.

TIP # 3

Install a reputable anti-virus software like Avast, Norton Utilities, McAfee Virus Scan or AVG on your computer. Pay the minimal cost (may have an annual renewal fee) to get the upgraded version so that it will update the dat files (virus definition files) on your computer on a regular basis and routinely scan your computer on the schedule you set. Consistent updating of dat files and scanning your computer's files will keep your computer virus-free!

TIP # 4

Choose an email service like Gmail that offers a robust virus scan service on all the email that is sent to you. This service will delete all messages that have viruses or worms attached to them and send a notice to you and the sender that the email didn't get through to your inbox because of a virus, or filter those suspicious emails into a Spam/Bulk folder. The best way to avoid getting infected with a virus is to make sure that the virus never gets near your computer. Spam/Virus filtering should be standard feature of all reputable email services and hosting companies.

TIP # 5

Teach all the staff in your company that use computers (as well as your children at home) how to scan for viruses on the computer and flash drives/backup drives/discs. If you have had virus infections in the past, the chances are that your backup drives/disks are also infected and need to be scanned for viruses. Better be safe than sorry and have all your staff scan any backup discs they have, once your virus detection software has been updated.

TIP # 6

Pay attention to your computer! If it starts doing very strange things, or the software doesn't function in the normal manner, there is a good chance that your computer has become infected with a virus or worm. STOP your work, and run all your anti-virus/malware software to investigate what's going on before it gets any worse. If you can't find the virus, be sure you've got the most up to date virus definition files by updating your anti-virus software. If you can't find/resolve the problem, contact your computer repair/maintenance company to ask for their assistance.

TIP # 7

Files that you haven't backed up may be LOST in a virus attack. Backup your essential data files frequently ... to avoid major headaches!

TIP # 8

In addition to your anti-virus software, install a spyware/malware detection software like SpyBot (FREE) and Malware Bytes which "detect and remove spyware/malware, threats not covered by all anti-virus applications. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behavior to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. Malware changes settings on your computer and grabs personal information from your documents/settings.

If you see new add-ons to your toolbar in your browser that you haven't intentionally installed, or if you start seeing ads popping up on all kinds of sites that wouldn't normally display them, your computer is most probably infected with spyware or malware. Even if you don't see the symptoms, your computer may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging. Spybot-Search & Destroy and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware are free, so there's no harm giving it a try to see if something has invaded your computer."

TIP # 9

Practice an abundance of caution in your web surfing habits.

Yakima website development

Additional great sources of information on viruses - from the people who make the software!

McAfee Virus Scan
Norton AntiVirus
AVG Free Anti-Virus
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

For further information on avoiding computer viruses, spyware and malware, please consult with your computer service/maintenance professional.

Articles written by Web Developer and Yakindo Project Manager, Danielle Surkatty.