No, I’m not talking about the common cold or a flu bug, I’m talking about technology. Malware, spyware, adware, ransomware…they all fall under that unhappy little title of virus. So what exactly is a virus? We hear all those terms thrown about but what essentially are these different types of viruses and how can you prevent getting an infection on your computer.
What is a virus?
Essentially a virus “a piece of code that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data” (https://goo.gl/kHB8JH). There are several names we hear when it comes down to describing viruses. The most commonly known of these include malware, spyware, adware, and ransomware.
What is malware?
Malware is malicious software and is often a blanket term used to describe an assortment of forms of hostile or intrusive software. This can include computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, and other malicious programs.
What is spyware?
“Software that enables a user to obtain covert information about another’s computer activities by transmitting data covertly from their hard drive.” (Wikipedia.org)
What is adware?
Adware, or advertising-supported software, is any software package that automatically renders advertisements in order to generate revenue for its author. The advertisements may be in the user interface of the software or on a screen presented to the user during the installation process.” (Wikipeida.org)
What is ransomware?
“Ransomware is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their system. This type of malware forces its victims to pay the ransom through certain online payment methods in order to grant access to their systems, or to get their data back. Some ransomware encrypts files (called Cryptolocker).” (Trendmicro.com)
Tips on Avoiding Infection
So now you have an idea of what malware is and some of the different types, but perhaps you are now thinking “Great, good info but how do I prevent from getting infections on my computer?” Prevention’s not quite as simple as washing your hands or popping a little extra vitamin C but with a few defensive measures, you too, can help avoid infection on your devices. Below are some helpful tips on what to do and what not to do to help keep your computer healthy.
- Do- Install a quality antivirus software onto your computer. You will want to be sure you have one that will actively scan your computer.
- Do- Keep your anti-malware software updated. If you are using a paid antivirus, be sure to update it when your license is going to expire. Be sure to run your windows updates to keep programs that come with your computer up-to-date.
- Do-Run daily scans. Keep things up to date on your virus protection and take a little time each day to run a scan on your computer.
- Do-Practice smart surfing. When online avoid banner ads, popups, and questionable links. Some popup windows or banner ads are designed to look like legitimate anti-virus software
- Don’t- Click on unknown email links or attachments. If you are unsure of the link or attachment avoid opening it. Even if it is from a known sender, be cautious on what you are opening.
- Do- Download only from trusted locations, but even so, be careful of what you are downloading. Often legit programs will package in other programs so be sure to read the installer screens so you aware of what you are saying yes or no to when completing a download.
- Do- Be skeptical of callers or pop-up windows telling you your computer is infected. This could quite possibly be a scam attempting to access your computer.
Always remember to be cautious when using email, or going online. When in doubt sometimes the best thing to do is to avoid clicking on a questionable link. Be careful on which websites you visit, if you aren’t sure then skip visiting that questionable website.
As always, antivirus programs are fantastic to help protect your computer. But remember, somewhere out there someone is in their home ready to release a new virus tomorrow. You, as the user, are the best defense against infection. Keep following these safe practices to help keep you safe online. Of course, it never hurts to get your computer checked by a professional from time-to-time. If you have any concerns, if your computer is acting a little weird, running slow, or missing icons, this is a good time to bring your computer in to your local computer repair store.
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