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7 Great Ways to Protect Your Computer From a Malicious Computer Program

published 5/4/2020

Have you ever had a malicious computer program invade your computer? If so, you know how frustrating the experience can be. They're tricky to remove and they can do a lot of harm. It can be worse if it's your work computer that contains sensitive information about your employees and clients.

Cybercrime is incredibly common and malicious computer programs are just one facet of that. Keeping your computer safe doesn't have to be hard, but it does require a bit of vigilance, especially if you have content that someone else might want access to.

If this is all new to you, or if you haven't been keeping up-to-date with your anti-malware efforts, you're definitely not alone. Keep reading to learn 7 tips for protecting your computer from malicious computer programs.

1. Install Antivirus Software

This one probably seems obvious to some people, but many people neglect to have an antivirus program on their computers.

Not all antivirus programs are created equal, but even a basic and free antivirus software is better than not having one at all. That said, there are also false antivirus programs that contain malware, so it's important to vet your software. If you run a business from your computer, it's best to have one that you invest a little bit of money in.

Roughly 350,000 viruses, or malicious computer programs, are detected every day. How many are going undetected and wreaking havoc on your computer or network?

2. Don't Click Unfamiliar Links

This is a lesson that many digital natives learned young. Never click a suspicious link.

In the best of times, it will lead to a prank video of Rick Astley (an excellent teaching mechanism for this idea). In the worst of times, it will lead to an area where malicious software can find its way into your computer.

If you're on a work computer or network, only click links that you can identify. If you're unsure if a link qualifies as suspicious, there are a few things that you can look for. Not all of them will lead to harmful links, but they're red flags.

  • Unnatural messages surrounding the link. Does the source of the link make sense? Does the message seem like something that that person would send? If not, ignore it for the moment and perhaps contact the person in another manner and ask them about it.
  • Is the link from an unknown source? If so, are they using proper communication etiquette? If note, it's best to ignore that link for the time being.
  • Does that link have an attachment? If you weren't expecting to receive an attachment, and especially if there's no indication in the message of an attachment, do not click it.

3. Scan Frequently

So maybe you're not clicking unfamiliar links and you've got that handy antivirus to catch any rogue malware. You're safe, right?

You should still be doing semi-frequent scans of your computer (and the computers and devices in the network) to be sure that you don't have anything malicious lingering around.

Sometimes viruses can be tricky. They can come to you from websites that you previously trusted, or just slip in through the cracks. It's better to scan often and catch anything unpleasant early enough that it hasn't done too much damage.

4. Stay Current on Malware News

Cybercrime is always evolving. Tech changes at a breakneck pace, and with it, the ability to infect computers.

It's a good practice to stay up to date on any information about current viruses and malicious programs if you run a tech-heavy business (and in 2020, most businesses are tech-heavy).

It would be a shame to miss something obvious just because you hadn't been keeping up with the news.

5. Consider an Adblocker

Adblockers are tricky. On one hand, you want to support the websites and creators that you're visiting. On the other, some ads are so loud and invasive and actually lead to harmful content.

On trusted sites, you can disable your adblocker. If you want to support your fellow business owners, content creators, and websites that you frequent, it makes sense to keep the gloves off.

On sites that you're less familiar with, though, keep the adblocker on. Some ads look suspiciously like real buttons on the page. Those ads often lead to some sort of malicious computer program download. It's best to avoid them altogether.

6. Update Your Software

Everyone gets those annoying notifications about software updates. Often, we just click out of them, hitting "remind me later" over and over until months have gone by and our computers are severely outdated.

Outdated software is actually a safety risk.

When software updates happen, one of the things that they're doing is updating for security. These security updates are based on whatever new round of malware is out and about at the time.

Updates can be irritating and time-consuming, but they'll save you time in the long run if they protect you from viruses.

7. Backup Your Devices

Sometimes viruses happen. Despite our best efforts, they can worm their way in and start meddling with files and corrupting data.

When this happens, it's possible that you'll need to totally wipe your computer. This is a massive headache, but it's worse if you don't have a data backup. All of that information is then completely gone.

If you have a backup, you can restore your computer to its pre-virus state relatively easily. It's best to have a backup before its too late.

Are You Safe From a Malicious Computer Program?

Protecting yourself from viruses doesn't have to be difficult, but it does require a bit of vigilance and tedious setup.

One strong malicious computer program can do a lot of damage to your devices. Getting ahead of a virus is far easier than trying to remove it later.

For more information, or to get help with virus removal on your computer (hey, it happens!) visit our site.