1. Stay Away from Applications or Apps on Websites
We all hear the term Apps, but what are they actually? On cell phones they are usually cool programs or Applications. Apps on computers are mainly used on social networking sites such as FaceBook, MySpace, Friendster and others. These are programs, usually little games that seem cute, fun or cool. The problem with these Apps is that they are not created or written by the website, but by a 3rd party. That means someone creates them that you don’t know or trust.
Many times the website will even warn you when you go to play, “WARNING, this is a 3rd party application”, many times they warn of such viruses. The Key to not getting infected: STAY AWAY. Many people love these Apps, but in the long run they are trouble for your computer.
2. Rogue Antivirus and Security Programs
Above I mentioned Friendster, which is definitely a big culprit in this area. By just going to this site will load viruses on to your computer. We call this a Drive By Infection. Rogue Antivirus and Security programs have exploded and have seen huge numbers of computers infected with these viruses in the second half of 2009. Here is how they get on your computer. Usually a message pops up and says you have viruses and need to click here for a full scan. If you are not paying attention to see if this is your Antivirus program, and you click on it anywhere, even to close it, it will load onto your computer and you are infected. It does not go away easily after that. Then, they want you to pay to remove all the stuff it “says” it found. These programs are called fake antivirus programs and charge to do nothing. They are all scams and will only infect your computer if you even click on them. You have to close the window without clicking on it. The best way to do this is hit Control, Alt and Delete at the same time and force quit the browser. If it comes up again repeat until the window does not pop up when starting your browser.
3. Pay for a good Anti-Virus Program
The key is to keep it up to date and make sure it is always turned on and working. Sounds simple, but you would be amazed at how many infected computers have virus definitions that are over a month old. Antivirus programs will update daily and some several times a day to make sure you have the latest definitions to stop the latest viruses. I recommend Trend Micro Internet Security and Sunbelt’s Vipre Antivirus. These are the two top performing programs for keeping your computer safe from harm.
4. Clean up your temporary files often
Every time you go to a website, that information is stored on your computer until you delete it. Viruses love to hide in this area. Also cleaning up the computers other temporary files will keep things running better. I would recommend free program CCleaner to help you with this process.
5. Keep Windows Updated
The updates that Windows performs on a regular basis are VERY important and always have some sort of new fix for security issues that were found. Many computers that get infected are not up to date. Service Packs are also very important. If you have Windows XP, you should have SP3 installed, and if you are running Vista you should have SP2. Each Service Pack (SP) contains a many fixes that keeps you up to date. A lot of people fear updates because sometimes they change things on your computer or cause problems on the system. It will happen, but it is better to get the updates and take those chances than it is to leave yourself vulnerable to attack by Viruses and Malware.