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Don't Get Infected! Follow These 5 Virus Prevention Tips From Experts

published 1/29/2020

Most people keep sensitive financial and personal information on their computers today.

As technology advances, so do the threats. It's vital to know how to prevent viruses from infecting your computer and stealing information.

Here are the best tips for protecting tech from viruses.

1. Avoid Older Computers

Modern computers come with operating systems that have built-in security. The security generally isn't the best, but it's a good first line of defense.

The basic functions of built-in security provided include reporting bugs, monitoring threats, and fixing weaknesses in the software.

Older operating systems by Microsoft, Apple, and Google do not have the same sophistication. Their outdated systems are usually replaced because of faulty or weak security.

Your average hackers and malicious criminals don't try to target the newest or toughest security vulnerabilities. They go after out of date computers and software. It would be expensive to try and buy a new computer every year.

In 2017, the WannaCry virus exploited weaknesses in the Windows XP operating system. Since support and updates for Windows XP was discontinued in 2008, users were left defenseless against a superior virus.

Some people prefer older computers because of saved documents or video game compatibility. Check to see if there are equivalent games or a safe way to transfer or convert information to a new computer.

The safest thing to do with older devices is to delete or transfer sensitive data and disconnect them from the Internet.

2. If It Looks Suspicious, Don't Click

Common sense dictates that you should never click a suspicious link, but hackers are getting more sophisticated and bold.

There are instances when you receive an email that asks for personal information or logins and passwords. The emails look super professional and convincing. A lot of times the email address appears to be from work or your trusted bank.

You may receive a video link or attachment from a friend or family member on social media. Check with them in person before clicking on any links or attachments, especially if it looks odd.

If you hover over a link or email address with your cursor, you can see the domain and URL without clicking. Something unfamiliar should be avoided.

You also have to be careful with what you connect to your computer. A lot of people use the cloud because it doesn't take up physical space in your home or office and can be accessed anywhere.

Storage devices such as flash drives and hard drives should only be connected to your computer if you see it taken out of the package.

By connecting to an unfamiliar device, you could be automatically downloading malicious content, software, or viruses without your knowledge or consent.

There are tons of great resources, websites, and videos online. Enjoy the Internet without fear, but always pay attention to the details of what is being sent to you.

3. Physical Security

Physically protecting your phone, computer, or tablet can help prevent external threats from ruining your life.

Leaving laptops or phones unattended and unsecured for a short amount of time can lead to extreme consequences. A person could upload a virus with a flash drive, remove the device, and then have complete control of your computer.

If a criminal steals your devices and has hours or days to work on your computer, they could install viruses and malicious programs without you knowing if something was on it.

Be suspicious of anyone who returns a missing device. Contact a professional to see if there are things on your electronics that shouldn't be.

Never leave your devices unattended in public. Develop a good storage place at your home when guests or friends visit.

In extreme cases, you can purchase locks to secure devices to desks or tables. Good physical security is a step forward with great digital security.

4. How to Prevent Viruses with Anti-Virus Software and Updates

One of the toughest lines of defense is anti-virus software. There are tons of companies and solutions to pick from.

Free anti-virus software can be downloaded and used as a great beginning point. It will run basic defense functions and keep low-level threats and risks away.

When you purchase a computer for the first time, security plans and protection may be offered. These are sometimes great software packages that can handle most issues, but other times simple trials of the software the computer manufacturer could get the best deal from. Make sure you are using Anti-Virus and/or security software from a source you trust - and if you don't know what to trust, ask a professional. It's important to remember to regularly scan your computer.

Virus scans must be completed when your computer is turned on. Set an automatic time during the week and make sure your computer is running. Don't forget to turn off any automatic sleep functions with the scan.

It was mentioned earlier that most modern operating systems have their own security. The systems regularly update and so does the security with it. As problems are reported, the engineers will improve security and glitches.

Update your systems when available. As the first line of defense, the operating system may stop viruses before the anti-virus software.

Web browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox will automatically update or prompt you to install a newer version. Do this as much as you update an operating system.

5. Only Use Secure Networks

Most viruses will enter your computer through the internet. Your home and work internet should have WPA or WPA2 encryption to protect authorized users.

Using WEP encryption or open-network connection can leave your computer vulnerable. Expert hackers can infiltrate a connected computer in minutes.

Free Internet in public areas is great. But if there is no password or encryption, you could be setting yourself up to be a cyber victim.

Don't share your Internet Wi-Fi name with anyone. Ideally, you should manually enter the SSID every time you want to connect instead of an automatic connection.

For friends and family that visit, give them a guest SSID and password.

All of your passwords should be strong and different. Don't use any identifying information in it like your name or social security number.

Protect Yourself

Technology and computers have made our lives easier, more efficient, and more enjoyable.

Knowing how to prevent viruses from ruining our lives is a valuable skill. Phoenix residents interested in learning more about computer security should contact us for solutions. If you are outside the Phoenix area, see our other locations here.