Nine Easy Steps To Protect Your Computer From Viruses, Trojans and Infections

Here are some helpful suggestions from the experts at TechExperts on how to protect your computer and network.

Step 1: Protect your personal information.
Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal financial information, and never respond to unsolicited requests for confidential information.

Beware of phishing. Phishing is an Internet scam where a message is sent out via email asking you to provide or verify certain information.

Typically these requests are designed to look like they came from a bank or other service provider. Usually there is a link to the bank’s website. But in fact the link doesn’t go to the bank; it goes to a computer controlled by fraudsters. Once armed with your data, thieves take out cash advances from your accounts or may try to steal your identity.

Step 2: Use an anti-virus program and take steps minimize computer virus risks.
Make certain that good, commercial-quality anti-virus software has been installed on your computer. New viruses appear constantly and daily virus definition updating decreases the risk of computers becoming infected. Many free anti-virus programs don’t provide for automatic updating.

Your anti-virus software should be set to automatically update, and should always be running.

Step 3: Install anti-spyware software and enable Windows Firewall.
Spyware is software that is usually downloaded from the Internet, either intentionally under the guise of a service or utility, or without your knowledge as a result of browsing malicious Web sites. Spyware gathers information about how you use your computer, and poses a threat to your privacy.

A firewall is a piece of software or hardware that helps guard computers against hackers as well as many computer viruses and worms.

Windows XP has a built-in firewall product, but it may not be enabled. Give us a call for more information on how to enable Windows Firewall.

Step 4: Be careful with email attachments.
Attachments are files, such as a document or picture that can be sent along with an email. Viruses spread by hijacking an infected computer’s email address book. The virus sends copies of itself as email attachments to everyone in the victim’s email address book. This gives the appearance that your friend is emailing you a joke or a document, but it’s really the virus attempting to spread itself.

If you receive an unexpected email attachment, even if you know the sender, do not open the attachment.

Step 5: Use strong passwords, and change them often.
A strong password is one that is not obvious or easy to guess, it should be 8 – 12 characters long and include a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols such as punctuation marks and special characters.

Step 6: Stay updated.
As flaws are discovered, software makers such as Microsoft release software updates. To ensure that your computer is secure, install the appropriate updates. There are a few circumstances where you might not want to, but generally, always enable Windows Update to automatically install updates to your system.

Step 7: Be careful about downloading.
Tons of no-cost programs are available with more becoming available each day. If a program is written with malicious intent, the author/intruder will not tell you that it will harm your system.

Many no-cost programs collect data about you and then sell that data to advertisers. These types of programs are called “spyware” (see step 3 above).

Step 8: Backup, backup, backup!
In case of emergencies, such as a hard drive crash, documents and data files stored only on your local hard drive need to be backed up and backups need to be periodically tested. If you are not sure if your files are being backed up, give us a call – we’ll be happy to help.

You may also want to consider encrypting and/or password-protecting files so that data will be unusable if stolen. Note that conventional passwords, such as Windows passwords, do not secure your data.

Step 9: Know where to go when you need help with your computer.
Keep our 24 hour computer emergency hotline telephone number available: (734) 240-0200. We’re always here to help with your computer problems!