With all of us using digital devices daily now and storing so much of our sensitive data on our computers too, it’s more important than ever to take steps to protect ourselves and our information. In particular, we all need to do what we can to avoid being compromised by a computer virus.
Hackers continually come up with new and inventive ways to break into systems and use viruses to achieve their aims, but if we take a few strategic steps we can reduce our risk factors – and stress levels – substantially.
Install security software and firewalls
It’s simple and straightforward yet very effective: install security software and firewalls to protect your computers. Buy some quality antivirus security so that any bugs hackers try to get onto your networks will be stopped “at the gate.”
While there are free antivirus programs on the market, they’re typically not as comprehensive as paid products, and therefore still leave you vulnerable to some attacks. Choose software that will protect your systems from a variety of threats with the latest techniques.
Solid security options prevent infections, but also remove any traces of viruses if they’re found to be on your computers already. It’s also wise to choose a product that features added extras such as protection against phishing attacks and custom scans for your needs.
Firewalls are helpful, too, because they add an extra layer of defense, particularly when it comes to threats coming from the internet. You will likely already have a firewall pre-installed on your computer, as many manufacturers add them as standard nowadays. However, be aware that your firewall may not be activated. This means you need to check the settings to be sure the firewall is working. If you don’t have one pre-loaded, you’ll find a variety of third-party options available for sale online.
Another way to protect your computer from viruses is to disable the common autorun feature. This feature is put on many operating systems to make processes quicker, but it also, unfortunately, leaves you more open to hackers.
The reason for this is that viruses often work by attaching themselves to one drive, and then installing themselves onto other connected drives such as thumb, network, and external hard drives. As a result, the autorun feature ends up circulating viruses more quickly than they would be if you didn’t have the feature switched on.
Disable the automatic preview of images
It’s wise, too, to disable the automatic preview of images that could be set up on your email system. Many mail programs, such as Microsoft Outlook, have this function. Although developers have now realized that setting this up to be an automatic feature can leave computers at risk, older products usually have the automatic preview system turned on. The sooner you change this setting, then, the better, as viruses often get designed into graphics.
If you share your device with family members, flatmates, or work colleagues, etc., keep an eye on this setting, too. Sometimes people switch the settings back to suit their needs, not realizing the potential risk doing this can cause.
Update software as soon as updates come out
You’re also more likely to be subjected to a hacker’s viral attack if you don’t update all the software on your computer as soon as possible. Make sure you’re always running the most recent version of security software, firewalls, operating systems, browsers, plugins, apps, games, and more. Set up programs to automatically update so you don’t have to remember to do this task manually.
The latest versions of software are the most secure, as developers are always looking for gaps in the security of their products that hackers might utilize. They create new editions to plug these holes.
If you put off running updates for too long, you could leave hackers with a window to attack. Cybercriminals create and spread viruses at a scarily fast speed, so you need to take every precaution you can, as quickly as you can.
Unfortunately, the reality is that thousands of viruses are crafted each year by hackers around the world, and these criminals are continually coming up with sophisticated means of launching attacks. As such, you need to take every precaution to protect yourself. By following the steps noted above, you will radically reduce your risks and be able to breathe a little easier, too, about your online safety.