How to Prevent Malware Attacks and Viruses on a Computer

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Always keep your Antivirus software updated and running.

Malware is short for malicious software, and is used as a general term to describe basically anything that harms your computer or steals your information. Malware may spread through portable media such as flash disks, floppies and CDs, or access the computer system via insecure networks or online downloads. Fortunately, most malware can be easily prevented by following some simple steps.

Step 1: Install an Antivirus Program

Antivirus Programs are programs developed to identify and neutralize or get rid of malware from your computer. They scan your computer system and disinfect, or clean it, of any existing malware. Antivirus programs also prevent malicious code from copying itself to your hard disk and accessing data on the computer. Many antivirus program are available in the market, both free and commercial.

Step 2: Install a Firewall

Secure your Internet connection using a firewall. A firewall is software or a hardware device developed to prevent unauthorized access to your computer by viruses and from hackers. Without an active firewall, your computer will be vulnerable to getting infected by a malicious program, often within minutes of connecting to the Internet. A good firewall will block malicious programs from entering your system, but it can’t do anything once the malware is already on the computer system.

Step 3: Disconnect an Infected Computer from the Network

Isolate any infected computers or drives and disconnect them from the Internet until you have run an antivirus program. Workstations on networks that are infected with viruses should be isolated and disinfected before being restored into the network. This is to prevent some malware, like viruses and worms, to spread from the infected computer to all the other computers in the network.

Step 4: Keep Antivirus Programs Updated and Running

Update your antivirus programs on a regular basis. If possible, set up the program to automatically alert you when updates are available from the manufacturer. This will help ensure that it can detect and get rid of new known viruses, which are always being developed. Make a practice of running the antivirus program on a regular basis. Stay up-to-date on security updates and vulnerability patches for computer software you have installed on your PC. This will help protect your computer from new malware taking advantage of a new vulnerability in computer software.

Step 5: Watch What you do on the Internet

Scan any email attachments or any files downloaded from the Internet before you open them, to ensure that there is no malicious program in the download. Never download email attachments that are not from trusted sources, especially if it has the .exe extension. (Although some sneaky viruses can hide their true extensions) Scan any flash disks, floppies or other storage media before use- particularly if they are from unknown sources. These media are notorious for spreading viruses to other machines that are not infected. Do not go to any unknown and untrusted websites. And NEVER, NEVER click on a false popup that says your computer is infected, and to click here to scan. This is the way how a new type of malware, Scareware, spreads from an infected website server to your computer.

Special Tips for the Wise

Have two log-in accounts, one normal and one administrator. One should have very low privileges and should not be able to install any software. Use this for your daily browsing or other activities. Do not use your administrator log-in for regular activities. A malware attack normally involves editing your registry and corrupting some system files. It can’t do it if it does not have the proper privileges. (Although Rootkits can bypass these restrictions to gain administrator access to the system.)

And for the Number 1 tip:

Always back up your data, because there are always new viruses being developed, and there is no antivirus program that can claim 100 percent protection from all viruses that will ever be developed. You never know when a virus will wipe all your data from the computer system. Always have a good backup on hand!

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