7 Tips for Preventing a Malware Attack on Your Computer
Malware can infest your system almost as soon as you click on an infected attachment, and it can run the gamut of severity from merely irritating to severely damaging.
While people generally use the terms “malware” and “virus” interchangeably, malware is actually a broad category of software designed to spread unwanted code throughout a computer host. Viruses are a type of malware, as are worms, adware, and ransomware. Not all malware is inherently dangerous – adware, for example, simply gathers information about the sites the user visits and generates appropriate advertising. However, even the most benign malware can diminish computer performance, so it’s something you don’t want. Here are a few precautions you can take for ensuring your computer stays clean and malware-free.
1. Don’t click on suspicious or unsolicited email links.
It’s easy enough to avoid obvious malware traps like pirated files and potentially dangerous websites. Unfortunately, malware distributors are becoming very clever at disguising phony links by hijacking trusted email addresses and creating realistic-appearing brand email notifications.
You can tell when an email is a phishing scam if the grammar is poor, or if the email recommends urgent action (for example, being instructed to click on their link to address suspicious account activity). If the email seems authentic in every respect, hover your mouse over the links included in the email and see what addresses appear in the bar at the bottom of the page. If the addresses are either unrelated to the business, or if they are all identical regardless of the anchor text, the email is suspicious. Remember: a real email from a legitimate business will ask that you visit their secure site from a separate window before you enter any login information.
2. Never open unsolicited email attachments.
Fortunately, many email clients won’t allow users to open attachments without first performing a scan, so you may have an extra layer of protection if you do receive a suspicious attachment. Nevertheless, make absolutely sure that any email that contains an attachment is legitimate and from a verified source. If you are sent an attachment from any source that you don’t recognize, don’t open it.
3. Do not install anti-malware software from a pop-up source.
If a notification suddenly pops up on a website you’ve visited, warning you that you urgently need to install an anti-virus scanning device, ignore it. This is an extremely common scam, designed to frighten users into acting without performing due diligence.
4. Always scan external drives.
Even if you’ve been given USB stick from a trusted colleague or friend – or even if it’s brand new – it could still contain malware from the distributor.
5. Keep your updates current.
Don’t ignore Operating System, browser, and plugin updates – these may have been initiated to patch existing security issues.
6. Beware of “social engineering” scams.
Some malware scams don’t start online – they are initiated through phone communication. If someone claiming to be from your bank contacts you by phone wanting to verify any password or account information, hang up and call the institution directly.
7. Install full-spectrum anti-malware.
Not only should you always have anti-malware protection, you must keep it updated and set to perform regular scans.
While many of these anti-malware tips will seem obvious, it’s surprising how many people fail to take even rudimentary protective measures. Malware threats are literally all over the internet, but if you remain vigilant, you can spare yourself the grief of an infected computer.
Spyderware Tech offers PC and Mac repair services to the Spring Branch, Texas community.