We’ve all had the unfortunate experience of having our computer attacked by a virus, some by the exceptionally malicious ones that access your contact list and start sending unwanted e-mails to your friends and associates. In an effort to reduce such occurrences, here are a few simple tips to help protect your computer from viruses and spyware:
1. Install an anti-virus program, and run scans regularly. There are several good virus programs out there, such as Norton Antivirus, Kaspersky, Avast, and others which you can download for free, or for the full versions, for under $100. This software will protect your computer from most viruses. The key here is not just installing the software, but scheduling it to automatically scan your computer and update the ever-growing list of viruses regularly. Norton: http://www.symantec.com/norton/index.jsp
2. Get a pop-up blocker. You know those windows with ads that keep popping up when you visit a website? They’re not only annoying, but they can also include harmful spyware or viruses. By installing a free pop-up blocker (which comes with Google and Yahoo’s toolbar), you can virtually eliminate these pop-ups and protect your pc.
3. Use a different browser. It amazes me how simple this is – by using a browser other than Microsoft Internet Explorer, you can eliminate a HUGE amount of spyware and adware. I have nothing against Microsoft, but unfortunately, many viruses are written for Internet Explorer due its ubiquity. Using a different browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome will make a big difference. When I used to use Internet Explorer, I would find about 200 adware or spyware a week when I’d scan my pc. After switching to Firefox, these scans find one or two at the most.
These browsers are also faster than Internet Explorer, making for a better browsing experience. I know you’re used to Internet Explorer, but once you get used to using a different browser, you’ll never look back. They are free.
Mozilla Firefox – http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/upgrade.html
Beware of any e-mails from recipients you don’t recognize; never open these or other suspicious e-mails. You should also back up your computer regularly, so in the event that a virus does get through and does enough harm that you need to reformat your hard drive, you’ll have all of your files. But that’s a topic for another day.