How To Avoid Infecting Your Computer with Malware and Viruses

You’ve probably heard the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it’s certainly true when it comes to protecting your laptop or desktop computer against malware and viruses. In the Internet age, malware is more pernicious than ever. Threats to data security continue to evolve, and malware and virus infections are continuing to rise. According to SentinelOne, fileless malware attacks increased by 94 percent during the first half of 2018, and these are only one type of widely-used attack. While the statistics are sobering indeed, there are sensible steps you can take to keep your computers from becoming infected.

Be Careful with Emails

Phishing is when scammers include links in emails that, when clicked, will lead to an attempt to steal your personal information or your money. Malicious links in emails can also include those that try to install malware onto your computer. Scammers spoof all kinds of organizations, whether the IRS, your bank, or a shopping website, and they try to make you believe that you simply must click on a given link to protect your assets or receive your package. According to Security Week, email impersonation attacks in which scammers spoof trusted organizations increased by 80 percent in 2018. You also need to be careful about email attachments. Never download any attachment from a source that appears to be anything less than 100 percent trustworthy. If something looks suspicious, then it undoubtedly is. Don’t take chances, and don’t click on those links or download those attachments. Your computer and your data will thank you for it.

Make Sure Your Software is Up To Date

When you update your software, whether your operating system, your applications software, or your antivirus and anti-malware programs, you are doing a great deal to protect the integrity of your data. Hackers and scammers take full advantage of outdated software of all kinds, so it makes sense to keep things current. Regular updates install patches to vulnerabilities in your older software, making you less likely to become a target of cyber attacks.

Be Wary of What You Install and Download

If you’re not sure about a website, then trust your gut and research it before you download any files. If somebody gives you an external storage device with files on it, let your antivirus and anti-malware software scan the device before you access any of the files. You need to be particularly wary of Peer to Peer (P2P) sharing websites. They aren’t a good idea since they can download malware to your computer along with the P2P software. P2P websites that make copyrighted material available for download should be avoided, both because copyright infringement is illegal and because scammers often disguise malware as downloadable movies or music.

Use Strong Passwords

According to the Pew Research Center, 63 percent of Americans who have experienced data theft or breach continue to use simple passwords which they keep track of in their heads. In 2017, Splash Data conducted a study which found that the most common passwords include “password” and “123456.” Clearly, people need to do better. A strong password is an excellent line of defense against hackers. Choose passwords which are a mixture of letters, both upper case and lower case, numbers, and special characters, and make sure they are at least twelve characters long. The longer, the better. It’s also a good idea to use password management software instead of writing passwords down, whether they’re stored in digital files or as longhand notes.

Back Up Regularly

Make sure you keep your important data backed up, whether on external storage devices, in the cloud, or better yet, both of these. Backing up your data is always a good idea, but with today’s growing threats to cybersecurity, including the specter of ransomware in which hackers try to make victims pay ransom money for stolen data, you can rest easier in the knowledge that even if your devices do become compromised, at least you won’t lose your data.

No matter how careful you are, there might come a day when you find that your computer has been infected by malware. Gadget Fix is a full-service computer repair store that offers virus and malware removal. If you need help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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