Let’s refresh our knowledge of Virus, not the medical kind, but the Computer kind, and let’s see if we are up to date with protection for our computing devices. The reason for re-visiting the subject is because so many SeniorNet members these day are using tablets and phones either in addition to their desktop or as their sole computing device.
We all know that they are out there, the hackers with their malicious intent, whose idea of fun is to make your life difficult. Fortunately there are a number of free antivirus programmes that will protect you, and if the worst happens there are tools for removing an infection.
Most, if not all, SeniorNet Kapiti members know what a computer virus is, they know that it is a programme designed to replicate itself and spread from one computer to others that you may have in your contact list. The malicious software, malware for short, includes also Trojans, worms, adware, spyware, keyloggers and others, and believe me there are more than a billion browser based attacks per year and growing.
The thing is that from being largely Windows based desk top machines and then laptops/notebooks we now see the Mobiles becoming a target. Apple was thought for a long time to have largely avoided being targeted but that has changed and the hackers are into their operating systems too.
In short we are all targets so follow some basic rules and you’re likely to sleep well at night:
1. Be careful with email attachments, don’t open them unless you know the sender. Even so without knowledge of the sender’s own attention to security an attachment can incorporate a nasty virus.
2. Emails sometimes contain URLs, as above be careful if you wish to click on one, better if you typed the URL directly into your browser, and that is more so if it tells you it comes from your bank [which is unlikely unless it is your statement].
4. Web sites with x-rated content are often popular places for nasty malware and also sites offering illegal downloads.
5. Frequently pop-up ads show up and they usually have an ‘X’ button in the corner for closing the ad. Use Alt+F4 to close the ad instead because the ‘X’ is a part of the ad itself and by clicking it could redirect you to a malicious website.
If you have gone through SeniorNet Kapiti’s basic knowledge courses you have already been shown how to produce strong passwords that are easy to remember, yet be a mix of letters and number and symbols at least 8 characters long. And don’t use the same password for all your sites, since if one is compromised the others will be too. Personally I use a Password Manager, e.g. LastPass, which is free, to hold the long list of password and log me in securely and automatically.
You already have or should have AntiVirus software installed to check incoming and outgoing traffic on your computer or device, the best of which is Avast followed by AVG. Do remember that no virus scanner is capable of catching and neutralizing every single threat because of the enormous volume of new threats being dreamt up every single day so to staying up-to-date with new updates, most on a daily basis, is important.
To be sure you have coverage for other types of malware it is useful to have another malware programme like Malwarebytes which is free and by all accounts does a great job of detecting the kind of threat embedded deep in your operating environment that could be missed by other scanners.
If you prefer to pay for your protection then Norton Internet Security is a good one. You have seen in past posts here the mention of Panda Security and if you are on a tablet or phone then a cloud based scanner may be your choice and Panda Active Scan detects and removes the nasties, but is limited to the Internet Explorer browser.
So there you have it, don’t hesitate to ask for help from SeniorNet Kapiti if your find that your machine is infected.