It is likely that, unless you are very new to the internet, you have had to deal with a computer virus at some point in your online life. Some are mildly inconvenient, messing up your email box through sending a lot of SPAM emails. Others can be very harmful indeed, possibly to the point where you personal information has been accessed and used by thieves.
Preventing this from happening is vital, but fortunately, as hacking techniques improve, so do the methods designed to prevent them. There are plenty of companies striving to make sure you remain unaffected by viruses, spyware & Ransomware and other malicious attacks. Here are some pointers you should follow to remain safe online.
Leave the Firewall Turned On
The firewall does exactly what you think it does – it blocks other programs and people from accessing your computer. The internet, in simplistic terms, is a bunch of connectors. If you go on a site, your computer and the server that website is hosted on are connected. That connection flows two ways, so a website you are looking at could choose to try to send information the other way, to either download spyware (more on that later) to your computer, or even take control of it completely.
The firewall will scan any incoming requests to see or download onto your computer, and either block them outright, or ask if you want to allow them access (if for instance you do want something to access your computer). Turning this off, no matter how long for, could unless a barrage of these requests, which now have nothing stopping them.
All new computers will come preloaded with a default firewall, to protect you when you first go online. Of course, you may want to upgrade to something more specialized, but this is likely to cost.
The second most important step is to install anti-virus software. These programs are upgraded constantly to make sure they are as far ahead of the curve as possible. They not only assist the firewall in preventing attacks, they can also scan your computer for any existing viruses, and scan any software you try to install manually first to make sure it’s OK (programmes from discs, memory sticks etc.).
Once detected, the program can then remove the virus or software from your computer. Almost all Anti-Virus program will also contain anti-spyware software, which protects you from being tracked online. Most of the time, this is done for less sinister reasons, such as by companies looking to track your online shopping habits so they can tailor advertisements to you. But spyware can also be used to see your passwords, bank details etc. If your program doesn’t, install a separate anti-spyware program.
They can also be set up to scan your computer at regular intervals automatically, whilst you are doing other things. If all goes well, your only interaction with it will be to renew it if you go for a paid version from the likes of Norton, McAfee or Kaspersky. This leaves you alone to be your usual productive self, without the hassle of constantly fighting off attacks online.
Be Sensible Online
Sounds like common sense, but this is the best way to avoid any hassle. If a website looks dodgy, avoid it. If a program that you usually have to pay for is being advertised as a “free download” on something other than the official site, don’t download it. And above all else, once you are finished surfing the internet, turn your computer off. Leaving it on all day everyday just increases the time-frame that your computer is at risk. A shop that is open for four hours is less likely to get robbed than a store that is open 24 hours.
Follow these fairly simple steps, and you should remain perfectly safe online.
More about the guest author:
Lily is a 20 something, A full time student from Birmingham. She is also productivity, tech and gadgets blogger at Productiveme.weebly.com. She loves to write about anything to do with productivity and tech.