How to Protect Your PC from Viruses

Do you know if your computer is healthy?

April 19, 2010

Do you know if your computer is healthy? FamiliarHosting has compiled a few tips and tricks on how to keep the viruses away from your computer.

FamiliarHosting security department has put together a list of tips on how to minimise the risk of infecting one’s computer with viruses such as trojans, worms and bugs.

Every computer connected to the Internet becomes vulnerable to fraud and viruses that are disguised under funky names, but are together known as malicious software. The main types are:

Viruses – they can be transmitted via websites, email attachments and straight from the Internet. They are in fact hidden programs that are hiding in files and spread from one infected computer to another.
Trojans – Trojan horses are hiding within a file that itself looks harmless (for example, a photograph). Their aim is to trick the users to install the infected software (eg. Spyware) onto computer.
Worms – they take advantage of an open Internet connection and attempt to sneak in and replicate at a fast speed on the PC. Once successful, worms often start sending spam emails from your computer (from your email) without your knowledge.

The purpose of the viruses is to steal personal information (including bank details, IDs) for ID fraud; get hold of email contacts in order to send spam mail; and also to use computer to create DDOS attacks. In the latter case, the website (in some cases whole country’s domain) can close down due to stimulated use by billions of simultaneous users.

Given the seriousness of the issue of PC protection, one absolutely must think carefully how to protect the computer and whether the computer is safe to start with. There are numerous paid-for anti-virus programs such as McAfee, Symantec/Norton but also a few good and reliable free programs. Here is the highlight of a few free programs to help keep the computer healthy.

1) Microsoft Security Essentials
Microsoft’s security essentials package is free of charge to the owners of genuine Windows computers and has 3 versions: for XP, Vista, and Windows 7. This software provides good protection from viruses, trojans, rootkits, and spyware.

2) Avira Antivir
This anti-virus software (Antivir), even though slightly less user-friendly than Microsoft Security Essentials, had won many tech publications’ free antivirus round-ups by providing the most thorough software protection. In order to get most out of it, the user must ideally possess some technical knowledge to get certain settings right.

3) AVG Free

AVG 9 (AVG’s current version) has a reasonable protection but does not offer any real tech support. It does not use too many resources and will also regularly auto-update. AVG includes LinkScanner that is a real-time threat detection scanner that checks links when you are surfing the web (note: Firefox and IE only) and marks unsafe links with red flags so you know not to click them. If you are already using another anti-virus software, you are welcome to download LinkScanner 1MB sized plugin.

Do not forget that as new viruses are developed and spread in the market daily, you need to update your anti-virus software with the most recent updates, otherwise your PC would be in high risk of being infected.

Unfortunately, this is not where it stops. Anti-virus is not the only protection. Firewall is needed to protect files and sensitive information. First and the easiest way would be to simply get a router to connect to Internet. Routers include a built-in firewalls. Set the security level of the router to high and if uncertain how to check, search online for the model number/make.

Windows XP, Vista and 7, all have built-in firewalls too. One must ensure though that Windows is up to date and the protection of firewall is set to high.

If the computer has become infected with Ad/Spyware, one can download a free ad/spyware software removal program. For example, EMSI Software’s A-squared free edition includes almost all its most useful functions. It is simple to use, has daily auto-updates and has received excellent user feedback.