A healthy body is a happy body, the same happens with your computer and mobile device. Just like your body, your computer is a system of parts that work together to function and each part has to be taken care of. And just like people, sometimes our computers get sick. Everyone has heard the term computer virus but not everyone knows exactly what it is and how it is passed along.
A computer virus is just a program like your internet browser or a text processor. The difference lies in the intent behind the program, while most programs in your computer serve to benefit the user viruses do the opposite. They are programmed to damage your system, steal your information, and make your life miserable. They can be transmitted from one computer to another through the internet or they can infect a flash drive and contaminate every computer it is passed along.
Viruses not only affect computers, they can also affect your smart phone or tablet. Remember that they are just smaller portable computers and as such they are also vulnerable to viruses. So it is up to you as a user to arm yourself and your devices against this kind of threat. There are plenty of ways in which this can be done. Here are nine tips on how to keep your device clean and virus free.
A computer virus is just a program like your internet browser or a text processor. The difference lies in the intent behind the program, while most programs in your computer serve to benefit the user viruses do the opposite.
1. Install software only from trusted sources. Both on your computer and mobile phone, check the sources of any software you want to install. When buying a physical copy of a software trust only renowned sellers, avoid buying pirated software as they may come infected with some kind of virus that you do not want. If you want to download a software make sure you do so from the official website of the software developer, third parties download can sometimes come infected as well.
On your cellphone it would be better to only download apps from the Apple App Store or the Android Play Store. Try to avoid websites that offer apps for free as they also could be contaminated. Trust only respected and renowned sources.
2. Install a strong antivirus. The simplest way to keep your device virus free by definition. There are many good antivirus software out there that the choice is quite easy. A good antivirus will constantly scan your device and eliminate any possible danger, it will warn you when there is a threat detected and tell you what you can do about it. Think of an antivirus as the immunological system of your computer, you want to give it the best, would you not?
Some antivirus software costs some money but do not be discouraged, think of the money you spend on it as an investment or as a medical insurance for your computer. Most antivirus developers only require a single payment upfront for the use of their program so it is not like you are going to be paying for it for the rest of your life.
3. Keep your antivirus updated. Just because you already bought a good antivirus it does not mean that you are set for life. Computer viruses evolve just like their biological counterpart and your antivirus may no longer be able to fight them off once they have changed. That is why you should always renew and update your antivirus software. Most developers offer free updates or discounts to existing customers.
4. Install security updates. Many of the programs you use on a daily basis can have bugs or holes that can be exploited by a virus, to counteract this most developers constantly release what they call patches for their software. A patch will fix the bug or hole in the program and prevent it from being affected by viruses. The thing about updates is that most people will not be bothered to update their systems, keep in mind that for the most part, this is a process that can be authorized to be done automatically so you need not worry about this.
5. Install a good anti-spyware/adware/malware software. Another name for computer viruses is malware, a software designed to damage your system. But there are also spyware and adware. Spyware works by tracing and sending your personal information to its source. This can be files in your computer, pictures, personal information, and even accessing your webcam without your knowledge or consent. Adware is software designed to show you ads for all kinds of products, they take over your web browser to the point where everything you see is an ad, and not even a good one. Clicking on these ads can lead you to malicious websites where your system can catch even more malware.
The best way to fight this off is by installing an app on your web browser that detects and prevents this type of software from being installed in your computer.
6. Beware of emails. Emails are the silliest way to catch malware. Opening a contaminated email can be enough for the virus to infect your system and wreak havoc in it. We are not telling you not open any email ever, just be careful about it. For example, do not open an email from someone you do not know, if a friend sends you an email with a weird attachment ask them about it before opening it. If you receive an email from a bank regarding any kind of trouble with your accounts of credit cards delete it immediately, banks will always contact you by phone first
Also beware of any email asking for money, telling you that you have won a contest you did not enter, carrying a compressed file attached, or written in poor or broken English. In any of this cases you should just delete the email and mark the sender as spam.
7. Browse smart. Another silly way of catching malware is by simply visiting a contaminated website. Once you do this the malware will download into your system without you realizing this. To prevent this visit popular and trusted websites and also have your antivirus scan every website you visit just to be sure. If you happen to stumble upon an infected site your antivirus should warn you and ask you to leave it.
8. Create a strong password. A good password is the best way to keep your information and data safe. Try not to use the same password on every website you visit and be creative when setting them. The most common password is a person’s birth date which is something relatively easy to find. Try using a phrase or a purposely misspelled word.
9. Routine maintenance. Just like you need to go to the doctor from time to time, you should also take your computer to a technician every so often. There is just so much you can do on your own, let a professional take a look at it and follow their advice, they know what they are doing.
Keeping your system clean and virus free is no extraordinary task but it does take some time and effort. But would you not prefer spending a few hours from time to time updating your antivirus than having your system wrecked by a virus and your data stolen by some spyware? Think about it.