|Posted on July 22, 2016 at 3:45 AM|
What can you and I do to keep our computers safe from viruses, adware, and spyware? The first thing that comes to many people's mind is a good antivirus.
Sadly, there is no antivirus that can keep out ALL infections. A lot of it has to do with the user's own actions, such as not downloading email attachments, not downloading free software off the Internet, avoiding questionable websites, and other such cautious actions. These actions make up what are known as 'safe browsing habits'.
I've used Microsoft Security Essentials (now called Windows Defender) for years, and due to my safe browsing habits, I have not had a virus on any of my computers for years. This is despite that fact that I regularly download and test various software and visit many more websites than the average computer user, since I make sure my test software is from trusted sources, and I know how to identify websites to avoid. If I get an email that looks even slightly suspicious, I refuse to open it or click on its attachments or links.
I know it's not pleasant to hear, but antivirus really is the second line of online security defense, falling in line after our own awareness of and adherence to good online safety habits.
Here are a few more tips to keep in mind:
-Using webmail instead of Microsoft Outlook or another email client is a good step for security, as it keeps email off your machine, and makes it stay in the cloud where it belongs.
-Using browsers other than Internet Explorer or Microsoft's new Edge browser is also another good step, since Google Chrome, for example, is not built into Windows. These third-party browsers (Chrome or Firefox) get updates way more often than MS's own browsers.
-Use Adblock Plus! (or another good adblocker) A huge source of infections comes from people clicking on ads that are designed to mislead you into thinking your computer is infected and needs to be cleaned. These ads are always false, and always end up actually infecting your computer rather than helping. Adblock Plus prevents all ads from showing, including these terrible, scammy, lying ads that trick people.
Adblock Plus for Chrome: https://goo.gl/Cb85G
Adblock Plus for Firefox: https://goo.gl/0RrQ9
-Be aware of the 'syntax' of fraudulent emails. Even if an email appears to come from someone you know, there are things to look out for. If the email has only a few words of generic greeting and then a link to click, that's a bad sign. If it has an attachement with little to no explanatory text, that's no good. Any claims that your friend is in another country and got mugged or lost and needs you to wire money, that's a no-no. Pretty much anything out of the ordinary can be cleared up with a phone call to the supposed sender first, then delete the email.
-Phone calls claiming to be from Microsoft or a computer security company are ALWAYS scams! WITHOUT EXCEPTION! Do not allow them to access your computer; do not believe their claims that your computer is infected. Read more about these scams here.
CONTACT ME if you'd like to find out more about securing your computer or dealing with problems that have already come up.