Tip #1: Avoid File Sharing Programs
File sharing programs such as emule, Limewire, Sharezaa, Kazaa, Frostwire, Bearshare, etc are breeding grounds for distributing malware and virus infected programs and music. If your just a casual computer user most likely you never heard of any of these programs, however, if you have a son, daughter, or grandchild that uses your computer it’s a good idea to check if any of these programs are installed. These programs usually run in the background sharing files on your computer over the internet. Now by default your private files aren’t shared only files that are put into a certain folder, so in most cases your personal files aren’t being transmitted. The bad news is, these programs for the most part are used to download illegally obtained software and music. Not only is there a chance you could face a lawsuit for the copyright holder, there is a very very good chance the illegal file contains malware that will infect your computer. I recommend removing any such programs from your computer.
Now if you do insist on downloading music, movies, and games at least do it safely and learn how to use bittorrent. I recommend the utorrent client and searching sites like btjunkie.org. Furthermore make sure you take the time to read user comments which will tell you whether or not the file is infected, if there’s a user warning that the is infected or if there’s no comment at all avoid it. I’m not going to go into specifics on how to use bittorrent here the information is easily accessible through a search. And frankly if you can’t figure it out it’s best you not try and risk getting an infection.
Tip #2 Change your DNS
Every website on the internet has a unique number address say for example 220.127.116.11 now imagine having to remember dozens of numbers to your favorite websites. That’s where DNS comes in in your web browser you type JRDTech.net it has to first go through a DNS server that matches name with the correct number address and sends the correct page back to your web browser. Normally DNS servers are automatic and not moderating so if a website is infected with a virus and you type in or click a link to that website you’ll become infected as well. The good news is there are several secure DNS servers which monitor domains for malware activity and block the site from loading on your computer. You’ll just see a ‘page not found’ error.
Here is a list of a few secure DNS servers
If you know how to change it, great. If not here is a simple program that will change it for you, DNS Changer launch the program (if Windows Prompts you with a warning click yes, don’t worry it’s safe) once the applet is opened the only thing you need to worry about is “Choose a Free DNS Service” click the drop down box below that and you’ll see a list of preset DNS server. I recommend using option ONE OF the following choices. Open, Open2, or Comodo. Once you’ve chosen click it and you’ll see the number IP address of the DNS server appear below. Finally click the “Apply DNS” button on the left side. Congratulations your computer just got a bit safer!
Tip #3 Keep Your Computer Updated
This is a simple step that everyone seems to overlook. Simply keeping Windows up-to-date will prevent many viruses from infecting your computer. Many viruses exploit un-patched security holes in software to infect your computer. Many times though however the patch to fix the issue was released long before the computer got infected…if only you had made sure your computer was up-to-date!! So don’t ignore the Yellow Shield with a black exclamation mark down by your computers clock this indicates you have an update waiting to be installed just double click and follow the on-screen prompts.
Now if you haven’t seen that icon by your clock it’s a good idea to manually check.
If your running Vista or Windows 7 click the ‘Start” button, then ‘All Programs” and find ‘Windows Update’ (it should be more towards the top of the list) click to open. Once its opened click “Check for Updates” on the left side. If it finds any updates follow the directions to install. If it comes back that your computer is up-to-date, great just click the Red X to close it.
For Windows XP: Again click the start menu, All Programs, find Windows Update or Microsoft Update near the top of the list. Click to open, it will launch a browser window. If you never ran it before a yellow bar may appear requesting you install an ActiveX plugin. Go ahead and install it. Then when prompted click Express. Follow the prompts on-screen.
Tip#4 – Have a Good Security Suite
I always tell my clients that having a good Security Suite isn’t a guarantee you won’t be infected by a virus. Detection rates on popular anti-virus suites range from as low as 40% to as high as 95%. Now just because it’s not a guarantee doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have one, of course you should and I’m going to recommend the better options below. It’s also important to remember to keep your virus definitions up-to-date and to run an on-demand scan once a week. Most of the times it will auto-update but it’s a good idea to manually check every once and awhile.
For Paid Anti-virus security suites I recommend:
1. ESET Smart Security
2. Symantec Norton 360 or Norton Security Suite (2009 or later)
I think for many reading this the surprise on that list would be Norton. This product has gotten a bad reputation from it’s past implementations and well deserved too since the program was bloated and under performed. However they redesigned the program in 2009 and it’s been great using minimal resources and providing excellent protection.
For Free Security Suite:
1. Comodo Internet Security
Comodo is the only comprehensive security suite (anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall) I’m aware of tha’ts available free of charge.
Free Anti-virus/anti-spyware: (No Firewall included)
1. Microsoft Security Essentials
3. AVG Free