How to prevent computer viruses, trojans, malware, adware, ransomware and rootkits

Below are a few tips and my personal opinions to help keep your computer clean and free of viruses, worms, spyware, malware, ransomware and other harmful computer parasites. Before I begin I’d like to go through the brief history of viruses, touch on why they are created, then explain why their still around today.

Computer Virus

Being a computer technician, the most frequent question I get asked is, who creates these viruses? There is no real clear cut answer to that. The first programmers to create viruses did so for fun and bragging rights. For the most part they were non-destructive. Then as others learned just how easy it was to create a virus, it quickly became an epidemic.

Destruction, revenge, jealousy, and greed fueled the evil minds of these hackers and rogue programmers. When you’re an educated programmer with no job and nothing but free time on your hands, creating a program to spit in the faces of all you hate begins to sound like a good idea.

There are a lot of people that hate wealthy countries such as the USA. 10’s of thousands if not more graduate from college each year with hopes of pursuing a career in the IT industry. In this global economy and global recession, the number of college graduates far exceeds the number of well-paying, available jobs. So what does a fully capable programmer do when he/she cannot find a job?

They turn to what they know best, which is creating a computer program to make money. So, hypothetically if a couple of these unemployed individuals got together and decided to create a program that would spread throughout the Internet and install itself on unprotected computers, the possibility to make money now exists.

In designing this new program, they decided to issue a command to hide all of your icons making it appear as if everything was deleted. Then the program could bring up a fake security center dialog that looked completely official and could not be closed. You would then be notified that your computer was infected and your only hope was to pay $200 for some virus protection program that just mysteriously showed up.

FBI Virus

Keep in mind, there are millions of unprotected computers connected to the Internet here in the US alone. So let’s say 1000 people fall for this over a one month period. By the end of the year, the individual or team of programmers would have netted approximately $600,000. You might think to yourself, no way, people don’t actually give their money to these hackers and malicious software companies. I visit with people all the time who have fell victim to these scams.

So what can you do to help keep your computer free and clear of these malicious and unwanted attacks? The first thing is to invest a solid anti-virus program. Now I know there are a lot of free antivirus programs on the market. That sounds like a great thing until you install the free program and learn that you’re only protected from certain types of viruses. If you want to be completely protected, they make you pay an additional $30 to $40 each year.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with free antivirus programs such as AVG. If you’re an occasionally computer user and don’t surf the Internet often, AVG would work just fine for you. For those who are on the Internet several times a week or like me, glued to a computer I’d recommend Norton Antivirus. Before your head explodes and you begin thinking about 5 years ago when you had Norton’s and it screwed everything up, just hear me out.

Norton Antivirus

I’m not a paid spokesman nor am I offering an affiliate link to make money on this. I’m simply sharing my opinion and thoughts. I was re-introduced to Norton’s Antivirus at a client’s home at the beginning of January. I was there to install a new PC and get it setup for home music and video sharing. The client handed me his copy of Norton’s and asked me to install it.

In the past Norton’s had a bad reputation for being a large, overbearing and clunking resource hog that would bring your computer to a crawl right after installation. I placed the CD into his new computer and was surprised to see how fast the install was. I was immediately impressed with the extremely small amount of system resources it needed to function.

I guess Norton finally began listening to its customer base and designed a practical, yet affective antivirus program that simply works! I went home that evening and installed the free 30 trial on my home PC. I haven’t looked back since. The new user interface is brilliant, the options are easy to access and simple to adjust. The program stays up-to-date more so than many anti-virus softwares I’ve used at home or in a corporate setting.

There are some new features in Norton Antivirus that you will not find in the free antivirus offerings. One of the features I like is the Norton Community. Others like yourself can rate downloads and other items on the Internet as safe or unsafe. This comes into play when you are downloading programs from unknown locations. Say for example you’d like to covert MP3 files into WAV files and you’d like to find a free program that does it. You search the Internet, find what you believe is a reputable website and download their software.

When the download completes, Norton Antivirus will show you a small dialog box indicting the threat level and what others in the community say about it. If others have given it a bad rating, you’ll know right away. This adds an increased level of security and peace of mind knowing that you’re not installing software today, that may cause you problems down the road.

In closing, remember to check your anti-virus definition date frequently to ensure your software is automatically updating. Do not follow links that promise free stuff and always close pop-ups as soon as you notice them. The Internet is the source of almost every PC infection these days. If you happen upon a website that seems shady, it probably is. If you can, spend the money and purchase a feature packed software package such as Norton’s or Kaspersky.

If you’ve somehow contracted a nasty computer virus that you cant get rid of, use this website to find a remote it support specialist that can help.


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Category: Antivirus

About the Author ()

JC is an MCSA, MCTS, MCP, Net+ and A+ Certified Technician. He is also an avid Web Developer, WordPress Jedi, SEO Connoisseur and owner of an IT Firm in the Midwest. During the day he helps tackles Server Administration and Desktop Support issues for small business. With over 15 years experience installing, configuring and troubleshooting retail and enterprise software, he's seen it all. Please use the comments section or contact page to reach out.

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