It’s one of the questions I get asked the most in my business. You didn’t install anything (you know of), you didn’t visit any new websites… You just used your computer the same way you have every day since you bought it and kabloey! All of a sudden and without warning it quit working! How did this happen to little ol’ you?
Bad Guys Are Clever…
…very clever. Chances are there was nothing obvious about when your computer became infected. Most viruses and malware get installed quietly, without attracting much notice. When they have to draw your attention, they typically disguise themselves as useful programs that you would normally keep on your computer. (This is where the term Trojan comes in. It’s a computer program that looks good on the outside, but is dangerous on the inside)
One of the primary culprits for installing viruses are popups. You visit a webpage and an advertisement pops up, informing you that your computer is infected with a bunch of viruses that could steall your identity!! They will encourage you to “click now” to “remove the threat.” After clicking the advertisement chances are you now have either a Trojan horse living on your system, or a form of hijackware. (Hijackware is software that harasses you continually until you pay for their “Premium” services. a.k.a. Ransomware)
So how do I stay safe?
The first rule in prevention is to never click an ad.The only proper way to deal with an advertisement on your computer is to click the red “x” in the corner of the window. Taking any other action to close the window could lead to your system being compromised.
The second rule in prevention is to visit reputable sites. Visiting only sites that you are familiar with will greatly reduce the risk of catching an online virus. When conducting searches, you should try to only click results that lead to pages you trust.
The third rule is to run a good anti-virus. There are several anti-virus programs available for free, and a few that are paid. These days, there really isn’t much of a point in spending money on anti-virus software since you can get the same thing for nothing. I will link to my favorite free one in the references at the bottom.
It is possible to stay safe online, but it takes an extra level of caution. Simply using these tips and being careful online can safe you countless hours of time, and a lot of money. Browsing the Internet should be a pleasant, safe experience. Hopefully, these tips will make your experience better.
Microsoft Security Essentials (free anti-virus)