I think we are all guilty of getting busy and dealing with life and letting some of our computer maintenance tasks take the background or move to the bottom of the list. But we really should be sure that our computers are protected like we protect ourselves and our families from getting sick. This means making sure that things are running smoothly and our internet security software is up-to-date.
Would you be more likely to safeguard yourself from a computer virus or a human virus like H1N1? If you said computer virus, you are among the 49% of Americans who are more likely to protect yourself from attacks by malware such as spyware, Trojan horses, and phishing than bacteria that can cause viruses like the flu.
With millions of Americans storing critical data and personal information online, computer viruses carry increased threats to our daily lives. The most common cause of computer malware are websites that download and install files without your consent. They can also come from files on USB drives, portable hard drives, CDs, email attachments, and sites that share files. The primary intent of viruses isn’t to harm the functionality of your computer. Their main goal is to hide and live on your computer undetected so they can replicate and spread in order to provide their creator with profit.
Just like good hygiene and hand washing can prevent the spread of seasonal viruses, computer viruses are preventable. Independent research conducted by Kelton Research indicates that while we are more likely to ward off an attack on our computers, only 3 out of 5 of us are confident we would know the correct course of action to take if our computer was infected.
Here are some basic tips to prevent a computer virus:
- Use a security solution but be aware that there are many fake security software solutions that masquerade as malicious applications. Malicious applications tell you that your computer is highly infected and urge you to buy their product immediately. Such messages will persist until you give in and pay, therefore allowing their creator to profit. To avoid this scenario, do some research about what is available from trusted leaders in the internet security industry by reading third party reviews by institutions and review magazines who test and evaluate a wide range of security products.
- Be aware of the websites you and your family visit. Clicking on links from friends, social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, or through instant messenger applications could potentially infect your machine. The random clicking that your child does on the family computer could also lead to a malware installation. Also, never click on a link from an unknown source. Kelton Research found that nearly 1 in 4 people admitted to clicking on a shortened link from someone they didn’t know.
- Scan your CDs, USB flash drives, and other removable devices before opening the files on them and also scan your computer periodically to check its health. BitDefender makes free tools that provide immediate checks at quickscan.bitdefender.com
- Keep your computer up to date by installing the software updates. Even though it may take a little time to install and restart your machine, you will save yourself a lot of time in the long run by making your computer less vulnerable to malware.
- Remember that internet security and antivirus software needs to be purchased every year. BitDefender makes software good for multiple years at a time but an expired license can make you susceptible to viruses if you don’t purchase another security system in a timely manner.
Even though the Kelton Research study found low awareness about computer security, most Americans know to take advantage of basic antivirus software to scan their machines. If you have found that you computer is infected, most paid and free antivirus solutions can disinfect your computer, or at least provide you with the name of the virus. If you know the name of the virus, visit known security companies’ websites to find free disinfection tools to rid your computer of the virus.
“While computer viruses have always posed a significant threat to consumers, this study confirms our view that Americans are now valuing their ‘digital lives’ more than ever before,” said Catalin Cosoi, senior researcher at BitDefender. “Our lives revolve around computers and the Web, and in order to keep private information safe there needs to be more education around basic safety practices.”
This article was provided as exclusive content by BitDefender because of my role as a BitMom Blog Network Member. No compensation was received for sharing this post however, BitMoms is providing me with a $200 blog conference stipend and other materials to help me facilitate sharing topics of internet safety and security with my readers and through the BitMom Community. Survey data in this article was determined by Kelton Research through a random sample of the US population ages 18 and over.
About BitDefender®– BitDefender is the creator of one of the industry's fastest and most effective lines of internationally certified security software. Every day, BitDefender protects tens of millions of home and corporate users across the globe — giving them the peace of mind of knowing that their digital experiences will be secure. More information about BitDefender and its products are available on the company’s website.