Think before you click, antivirus for dummies

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In my opinion security software is not nearly as needed as companies selling that kind of software wants us to believe. I’m not saying they are useless, I’m saying we can protect our own systems to the point where the antivirus will have to do much less job. I myself have not gotten infected by a single virus in several years. But why is that? Do I not download stuff from the internet? Oh, believe me, I download several gb’s a day! Do I use Linux? No, I’m talking about Windows, Windows 7 to be specific. Do I not exchange files with other people? As a student, I exchange a hole lot of files! So what is my secret? I think before I click!

Of course you have to always have the latest updates to every piece of software you have on your computer. And that of course includes your antivirus definitions! No need to have antivirus software if it’s not going to protect you agains the latest viruses out there! the older ones will not affect you if you have updated everything else on your system. You might not like the automatic updates for whatever reason, but you can at least try to remeber to update now and then. We all forget, it’s only natural, but we got to do something about it. I personaly have set everything to “download but ask me when to update”,  not to discomforting  and does the job! And why is that so crucial? Because there are not only viruses out there, but even stuff like worms where you do not have as much controll as with a virus. And because there is malicious software that will not be able to do you any harm on the latest updated software. The best defence is to not be vulnerable in the first place!

But to win a battle, you got to know your enemy! A virus can not infect your system if you don’t do something stupid. Or at least if you don’t click everywhere without paying some attention on what you click. A virus will most likely be an executable file (.exe) and that means that it will do nothing to your system unless a user opens it.  A virus simply existing on a hard drive, as a file, is no problem at all. Problems begin when you open that file, after that the virus is working to do whatever it was designed to do. It doesn’t take too much effort to not click on something. Specialy if that something came to you through a suspicious source. Checking the properties to see if it is a .exe file before double-clicking a file is a good idea. You don’t need to go to extreme lengths and check everyfile of course, just check stuff you don’t remeber what it is or where you got it.

Of course that is not enough. Some people have to get more suspicious while surfing the internet and downloading files. There are threts out there harder to spot and/or prevent than a simple virus.

Trying to download a free programm and you keep getting new links, over and over again instead of getting to downlad your software in max 2 steps? There are tons of download buttons and it’s not clear which on is for the file you requested? There is something suspicious going on, try to find the software on more trustworthy sites.

Want to download a torrent? Check the uploader, the comments, the files it contains and prefer bigger, more trustworthy torrentsites. If you download a cracked piece o software, don’t wonder how it happened to get your computer infected! If you want to go pirate, at least know what you are doing first, otherwise go with stuff that is given for free from the creators, or pay for you content, whether that is music, movies, software or whatever else. Even though more and more users know the basics and avoid viruses, and therefore there is not as many viruses going around through those means, people who are looking for pirated software/content are easier targets.  Don’t forget, a virus is a .exe, if you are trying to download software, there will be an executable file in there, so easier job to get you to click on it!

And last but not least, read the signs. Did your email account get hacked and sends out mass e-mails with malicious links? Some computer you used to logg in to your mail, had some kind of malicius software. Not yours you think? Well, yes, very possible! But where did it happen? Work? School? A friends pc? Can you be sure?  And even if you can spot that and be sure about it, can you be sure you haven’t had any files coming and going between those two computers? If you can feel so safe, no big harm done, logg into your email from your own system, change the password (and any other passwords you have used on that other computer), send an email apologising for the malicious ones, and job done. But if you can’t be too sure, check for viruses, check for spyware, check for trojans, check for everything. Then, when you are sure the thret is gone, or never was on your computer change your passwords.

Author

Anastasios Barianos

Anastasios Barianos is a student in the field of IT, has an interest in a wide spectrum of IT, Computer Science and technology in general, but also in arts and other activities.

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