Our Customers Ask: How can I avoid getting infected?
1. Keep your essential programs up to date.
Several forms of malware try to use vulnerabilities in common programs like Internet Explorer, Java, Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, and sometimes Windows itself. Antivirus packages cannot always detect these exploits, so it is crucial to install updates. Putting off an update for a few days or a week to be sure there aren't any problems with the updates is acceptable, but not indefinitely.
2. Make sure your antivirus package is up to date.
Several antivirus software packages that are shipped with new computers have temporary free subscriptions that expire - and when they expire, they stop working! Whether a free or a commercial antivirus software package is a better choice is a subject for another article, but unless you are an extremely savvy user, it is highly recommended that you have some sort of antivirus package installed.
3. Watch out for scams!
A great amount of malware is installed by convincing you to click on something, either through a link sent through email, or a web page designed to look alarming. Some of these may try to convince you that your computer is already infected, and that you really need to CLICK HERE to fix everything. Many a user has been distraught to discover that in their attempts to be safe, they have infected their computer.
4. Don't trust all email.
Just because an email looks like it came from Netfix, or Microsoft, or a friend of yours, it does not mean that it did. Almost all the contents of an email can be forged or faked. If there is an attachment, do not open it unless you are certain it is safe. If you are not sure, and you recognize the sender, contact them for confirmation. If it's from someone you don't know, and you weren't expecting it, just don't open it. If it contains links, make sure the link goes to the right place before clicking it. You can usually tell by moving your mouse over the link; an area near the bottom of the window will tell you where the link goes. These are designed to fool you, after all, and either they want to sell you something, or they want to to install something (like pop-up ads) that make them money.
5. Don't trust all free software.
This especially applies to games and other programs that a wide variety of users may look for. Not all 'solitare' games are made equal, and it is extremely common for many of them to install other software you do not want - called Potentially Unwanted Programs - on your system, unless you are very careful about looking at all the checkboxes. Many times users end up with toolbars, altered search engines, or other annoyances as a result of installing a program that they did believe they wanted.
6. Don't completely trust all big software companies.
Even some big software houses are guilty of the above. Oracle's Java, for example, frequently wants to install other software, such as the Ask.com toolbar and to change your default search provider. You can uncheck these options, but if you don't, you'll wonder why your browser is not acting the same way it used to! Even software on CNet has been shown to do such bundling.
7. Be especially skeptical of 'PC Optimizers'.
Too many of these are ineffective. The worst of the lot actually make your PC perform even more poorly. Several of them contain other malware or potentially unwanted programs. Unless you have a personal recommendation from a very tech-savvy individual, it is best to simply avoid these outright. There are no reliable ways to tell good ones apart from dangerous ones.
8. BACKUP YOUR DATA!
It is said that there are two types of hard drives - those that have failed, and those that are going to. No matter how careful you are, there will come a point where your drive will fail, and you may or may not have sufficient warning. Furthermore, there are several 'ransomware' programs showing up that encrypt (scramble) your files, holding them hostage until you can pay a fee. There is no known way to recover these scrambled files, since they usually employ industry-standard methods to which there are no known 'backdoors' or 'master keys' to unlock your files. Backup devices that are not attached to your computer all the time will save you from these, and will also keep you from losing all of your files in the event of a major disaster.
Savvy Computers is a local Tucson company founded in 2011. We founded this company to more effectively help people with their technical challenges, for we were seeing many companies and individuals getting mediocre advice.
With over 40 combined years of Information Technology experience, we offer reasonable, practical solutions to your computing needs. As a results-driven company, we will evaluate your requirements and provide cost-conscious options, for we know that high costs do not always equal quality. We also provide support and service for smartphones, including Androids and iPhones.
Savvy Computers is proud to be one of the few IT companies in Tucson that offer support for Linux systems and other Free and Open Source solutions. Linux is a free, community-developed and -supported Operating System, also used by major companies such as Google and IBM. It provides a reliable, high-stability platform to perform common functions such as file sharing, backup management, and far more, without the regular maintenance competing Operating Systems generally require.
Our clients are more important to us, as a small business, than they could ever be to a national chain. We depend upon your satisfaction, and will always give you our personal attention. Our goal is to solve your problems, and never leave you with a “No”.