How Safe is Your Computer?
How safe is your computer?
Most people believe that their computers are safe with virus software alone. But cyber criminals are becoming more and more sophisticated and employ many different methods to hijack your computer, steal your money, capture your personal information or any other information which they can sell or trade.
Cyber criminals have become a very real and constant threat to every business. The primary weapon used in this kind of criminals is computer virus. Tens of thousands of computer viruses now operate over the Internet, and new computer viruses are discovered every day. The 2011 Norton Cybercrime Report reveals that there were 431 million global cybercrime victims who lost $388 billion in real money losses and computer time. It is important that businesses recognize this threat and take the necessary steps to avoid or minimize the damage.
A computer virus is a malware program that usually loads itself into your computer system when you run a program to which it has attached itself. When executed, it will then reproduce itself by inserting copies of itself into other computer programs, data files, or the boot sector of the hard drive. Once a computer virus gets into a network it can spread from computer to computer in multiple ways.
Although email has been the main method of spreading of computer viruses in earlier times, it is not the only method today. Even an infected USB device can spread a virus to a computer. Today almost all PC users go online for various purposes. But if you are not careful, your computer will end up with a virus attack that crashes your computer, popping up humorous messages or even corrupting your operating system. Today, the most common way of spreading a virus is through the internet. Internet downloading, visiting an infected website, instant messaging or messaging in social media platforms, file transfer and file sharing programs, or remote users connecting directly to the corporate network with an infected PC can infect your computer.
Symptoms of a virus infection
- Unusual slowness in performance of the computer
- Erratic behavior of the computer
- Loss of data files
- Frequent system crashes
How do I keep myself safe?
- Use a computer anti-virus
The first thing you should do to protect your computer is install an anti-virus software. Make sure the anti-virus you installed is a reputed anti-virus software and updatable. Because new viruses are produced daily, so it’s important to have an anti-virus that can detect the latest threat.
- keep the virus database up to date
Always update your anti-virus software in regular basis either monthly or as directed by the manufacturer. AS new viruses are being released every day, it is a must to keep your anti-virus software up to date to protect your computer from these new viruses.
- Keep your firewall protection on
Always use a firewall protection to block the unwanted traffic entering in to your computer.
- Update your operating system regularly Operating System is the most important part of the computer and updating the OS will fix bugs and vulnerabilities in the operating system. Most computer viruses and worms try to exploit bugs and vulnerabilities within the operating system. Blocking these security gaps is done by updating the OS.
- Filter all email traffic
Always filter your email traffic. Be careful when opening an email from an unknown person. You should never double-click on an e-mail attachment that contains an executable. Executables are the common way of spreading viruses through emails. A file with an extension like .EXE, .COM or .VBS is an executable and can do any sort of damage it wants.
- Scan Internet Downloads
Scan the files downloaded from the internet, before using them to ensure that they are free from viruses.
- Don’t run programs of unknown origin.
It is important to avoid using programs from unknown sources for your software requirements. It is always advisable to use commercial software available on CDs. This will eliminate the risk of software infected with a virus.
- Enable Macro virus protection
You should make sure that Macro Virus Protection is enabled in all Microsoft applications, and never allow your web browser to automatically run applications, such as MS Word, spread sheet or other programs. Instead configure your browser to launch WordPad or Notepad, as macro viruses are spreading through data processing and spread sheet programs.
- Increase your browser security settings
- Back up your critical data in regular basis
Make sure to back up your important data files regularly and keep it in removable media storage like portable hard drive or a tape. The best way to cleanup an infected file is, replace the non-infected original file from the back up that is known to be free from computer virus.
- Monitor network and system logs regularly
Monitoring the network and the system logs in regular basis will help to identify the virus attacks early. Unusual traffic patterns or log entries indicate the system has been attacked by a virus and the security has been breached.
- Restrict end user access to systems
The end users should not be given administrative privileges to install programs or change system files. Most viruses cannot attack the computer, when the user is not given administrative facilities to change the system files, as viruses also need permission to install itself.
These are the basic instructions that you should follow to protect your computer from virus attacks. If you follow above instructions, you will vastly help preventing your computer from getting infected or become a victim of a cyber criminal.