We’ve been seeing many people get infected in such quick and simple ways, whether they get spyware/junkware from various ads or fake websites online, or whether they get a true virus from an email attachment or some download they got from a bad link.
The best form of protection, of course, is being careful. No amount of anti-virus or anti-malware software can provide 100% foolproof security. It just plain doesn’t work that way. But there are some common security best practices that can be followed in order to provide maximum benefit. Please note that the following may seem like a lot, but once you learn and get used to thinking or operating in such a manner, 99% of your security problems will go away:
- Always keep Microsoft Windows, Internet Explorer, your anti-virus, Adobe Flash Player, Java and any other programs current. Windows should keep itself updated, as well as your anti-virus, but that’s not always the case. Flash Player and Java, though usually necessary on a wide variety of web-sites, are problems when it comes to security, so always keep those up-to-date, but ONLY if you see an update notification in the System Tray (the little area near the clock/time).
- If possible, stay away from Internet Explorer and use a superior browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Not only is Internet Explorer bug/error-prone, but it’s not quite up to par on web standards and such like other browsers are. You’ll thank us later.
- If possible, create a new User Account that is a Limited User instead of an Administrative User. This will add another layer of security by not allowing the user to make any system changes without it prompting for an administrative user password. Though it may get annoying at times, most programs don’t require such privileges to run and thus it shouldn’t be an issue.
- NEVER click on any advertisements or any such update pop-ups or ‘fix your computer here’ buttons, or any other similar thing within your web browser. You will almost never get any such notification that something needs to be updated or is wrong with your computer from within your web browser. Most of these things are just very clever ads put in locations that suck users in to click on them. Please beware! This is one of the worst problems that we see when working on computers.
- Use strong passwords. ‘Password123’ is NOT a strong password. A good password should be at least 8 characters long and have capitals, numbers and special characters in it. A great password is not a password at all, but more of a ‘pass-phrase’. It is something that would be an easy-to-remember phrase, complete with spaces and whatnot, that would take place of the password. For instance, I have a pass-phrase that is easy for me to remember and type that is over 40 characters long with a great mix of characters.
- Careful when downloading new files or programs, whether from emails or from the web. Email attachments that are programs, of course, are almost always bad so you should never trust them. Programs from the web can be good, if you get them from the real publisher of such software and not some middle-man who puts a bunch of scamware bundled with the download. If you download such a thing, don’t get crazy when clicking ‘Next, Next, Next’ while installing. PAY ATTENTION to what you are doing and you might get out alive and well.
There’s many more things you can do, things to think about, and other stuff to research if you want to be ultra-secure. Please feel free to take a look at the following page from BleepingComputer.com which has great tips and tricks for best security practices: Answers to common security questions – Best Practices
Remember to be careful, pay attention, and stay safe! Happy surfing! 🙂