Ask Leo: How do I keep myself safe from Viruses?


By Leo Notenboom

Computer viruses are a fact of modern, internet-connected life. At best,
they’re annoying performance sucking beasts, but at worst … kiss all your
data, and perhaps your bank account or identity, goodbye.

We all need to take steps to make sure that our computers
are safe, or we risk infection. Complacency is simply not an option.

And yet, even after all the news, all the horror stories, all the warnings,
and even after all this time …complacency remains all too common.

There are four important steps you should take:

1. Install and Run an Anti-Virus Program

There are many out there.

Personally, I run Malwarebytes
Anti Malware
on my primary machine. It was one of the first to recognize
and clean up after some recently pervasive virus infections, and has garnered
quite a good reputation.

“Download and install the package of your choice. Now.
Before you forget.”

I also run and have run other anti-virus solutions with good results on some
of my other machines. Specifically, I’ve run the free versions of AVG and Avira. I also hear good things about the
free version of Avast.

While I’m not a big fan of their product offerings, Symantec maintains one
of the best reference sites for
virus related security issues.

Not all virus scanners catch all viruses. I recommend having a selection of
additional virus scanners to run as a “second tier”. Most downloadable virus
scanning solutions often include free trial periods that can also come in handy
as one-time second-level scans.

Download and install the package of your choice. Now. Before you forget.

2. Update the Anti-Virus Database

After installing your anti-virus software, your first step should be to
update the virus signature database that came with it. New viruses are being
created every day, and the databases used by anti-virus programs are being
updated frequently as well. You need to update to the latest database for your
program right away.

Most of the programs have update functions that will locate, download and
install the latest databases regularly and automatically. Make sure that this
is enabled.

Article continued here: Steps 3-4.

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