Malware is malicious software that considerably slows down your PC and could also steal your information. Computer hackers use malware to spy on you and intrude upon your privacy. They can also slow down your Internet activities considerably. Today, we will discuss some easy ways and best practices to avoid malware.
1. Use the utility tools on your computer
Windows users are especially prone to malware attacks. Thankfully, Windows Utility tool called the Defender tool can keep your system clean and free from viruses and adware. These free tools are enabled by default. However it is imperative that you keep your PC updated from time to time. No matter how time consuming the Windows updates seem, you must run them each time your computer alerts you to do so. Remember that there are new updates and ‘patches’ created regularly by the Company to prevent latest malware attacks. Therefore, as one of the best practices to avoid malware and viruses, keep running updates each time you get an alert to do so.
2. Avoid downloading files from unknown sources
Windows Defender cannot always protect you from malware and spyware attacks. This is because of the fact that, like email spammers, authors of viruses and spyware also constantly come up with new tricks to circumvent filters and safeguards. To protect yourself from malware attacks, it is best to avoid downloading files from unknown sources. Do not click on links that appear suspicious. Avoid visiting pages unless you are sure they are from reputed and safe sources. Never install software from unverifiable sources.
3. Keep your web browser security on
There is an option to turn off web browser security services. But when you do that, you are making your PC extremely vulnerable to virus attacks. So always keep web browser security features turned on.
4. Keep limited accounts on home PC
Home PCs can have an administration account and several limited user accounts. If many members of your family use the same PC for different tasks then make sure you assign limited user accounts to each one. This will help you avoid privileges enjoyed by admin accounts which can unknowingly allow malware to access your PC. To change user status on Windows machines, go to Start – Control Panel – User accounts. (If your account is already limited user, you will not be able to see the other user profiles). So it helps in the beginning when you configure and customize your PC to have an admin account with password. If you want to install a program, you’d need to use admin account. Limited accounts are enough for web browsing and checking email etc.
5. Scan your system from time to time
Do not forget to scan your system using antivirus or anti-malware software. Your computer will give you updates as to when to scan. The scan is even run in the background so you can continue working in the foreground. Note that one program cannot be 100% reliable so use at least two different anti-malware programs to keep your system as clean as possible. I personally recommend the Spybot Search and Destroy program available on Safer Networking.
6. Use a hardware router
Malware often attacks your home computers through the Internet. When you use a hardware router, you can remain safe from malware and virus attacks since most routers have a firewall installed in them. You can also have other firewalls in addition to the firewalls in Windows and your router device but that will cost you some money. Firewalls can help protect all your home computers from virus attacks.
7. Update operating systems
It is a well known fact that many operating systems like Windows 98 are ill-equipped to prevent malware attacks. As far as possible, avoid keeping such PCs on your Internet or at least have them updated to newer versions of operating systems. This is an easy way to prevent malware attacks. Never use pirated versions of operating systems as they are highly susceptible to malware attacks. Use legitimate Windows systems that need a valid license key while installing. This will automatically help you prevent malware attacks.
8. Use different web browsers
Internet Explorer is used widely all around the world and that is one of the reasons why it is susceptible to malware attacks. Try using different browsers like Chrome, Opera or Mozilla Firefox. Thankfully, Microsoft has changed things around due to which their software is not as vulnerable today as it was a couple of decades ago. In general, while choosing any software, ask yourself if the makers of the software take security seriously and regularly update themselves for preventing viruses.
9. Use strong password
Never use guessable passwords like names, birthdates etc. Try using a combination of special characters along with alphabets and numbers to make your password difficult for hackers to guess. If multiple users log in to your computer, avoid using websites feature that automatically fills in your password for you.
10. Keep a backup
If despite these methods your computer is attacked, you will need to use ways to remove malware. In the meantime, it will help to backup important files on the cloud or an external drive. This way, you will not lose important data while your system is being cleaned.
11. Use free or paid antivirus software tools
If you do not want to spend too much money on keeping your system virus-free, you can use free tools from Avast and Avira. These tools are not great but they do a decent job of preventing virus attacks. Note that some of these companies will try to sell you their paid programs and also download unwanted stuff on your machines (such as Yahoo! toolbar etc). Other legal, free and decent malware prevention software include:
Malware isn’t something you should take lightly. It can install unwanted software on your PC and steal your banking and other sensitive information. Malware can also install and download software that allows other users to watch movies or videos using your Wi-Fi. This can be very difficult to remove and can even attack other computers on your home network. So prevention is the best cure when it comes to Malware. We hope these tips help keep your computer safe.