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How to Protect Your Computer from Malware & Viruses

How to Protect Your Computer from Malware & Viruses

As we are all too aware these days, viruses and spyware are a persistent threat to just about every computer on earth.

Every day we hear of new malware, viruses, worms, trojans, spyware and adware being distributed and circulated, threatening the security of our computers.

And while they may sound harmless enough, beneath the surface these malicious programs can cause severe damage to your desktop PC or laptop, compromise your personal information and seriously slow down your system.

So to keep your computer safe from these sneaky digital beasts, it’s essential to understand how they work AND how to prevent them.

Here are the top 12 things you can do to keep your computer or laptop safe from malware and viruses:

  1. Install regular software updates
  2. Use strong anti-virus software
  3. Enable firewalls
  4. Safe browsing practices
  5. Email security
  6. Regular data backups
  7. Avoid pirated software
  8. Use secure networks
  9. Protect personal information
  10. Monitor for unusual activity
  11. Speak to a professional
  12. Educate yourself and others

 

But first, what in the flippin’ heck is malware?

No it’s not just a few pop ups dancing on your screen - malware is a serious threat that can compromise your personal information (read: health, financial and sensitive data) AND seriously mess up your computer's performance.

In simpler terms, malware is described as “software that is specifically designed to disrupt, damage or gain unauthorised access to a computer system.” (Dictionary.com)

But malware comes in many forms, each with its own unique characteristics and threats.

The most common forms of malware include:

  • Viruses are malicious programs that attach themselves to legitimate files and spread when the infected files are opened and shared.
  • Worms are similar but do not require user action to spread, often exploiting network vulnerabilities.
  • Adware is like an annoying younger sibling that won’t let up. It bombards you with unwanted advertisements, often slowing down your computer and generally creating a nuisance.
  • Spyware is sneaky, secretly monitoring your activities and collecting sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers directly from your machine. 
  • And last but not least, Trojans are often considered the most sinister of the set because they disguise themselves as harmless software, whilst creating backdoors for cybercriminals to access and hijack your system.

It goes without saying that understanding these different types of malware is crucial in effectively protecting your computer.

So, the next obvious question is – what can you do to protect your data from malware and viruses?

Here are our top 12 tips for keeping your computer safe and malware-free:

 

1. Regular software updates

One of the simplest ways to enhance computer virus protection is by keeping your software up to date.

Software developers frequently release updates that fix security vulnerabilities.

Set your operating system, antivirus software and other critical applications to update automatically.

This ensures your computer is always protected against the latest threats.

 

 2. Use strong antivirus software

Investing in reliable antivirus software is worth every cent.

That’s because good antivirus programs offer real-time protection, scanning your system for threats as you use it.

Some of the most popular - and robust - antivirus software providers include Bitdefender, Norton, McAfee and Avast One.

They can detect, quarantine and remove malicious software before it causes harm and warn you about dangerous or dodgy websites before you accidentally click into them.

Make sure to keep your antivirus software updated and run regular scans to maintain robust protection.

 

3. Enable firewalls

Firewalls act as barriers between your computer and potential threats from the internet.

Both hardware and software firewalls can block unauthorized access and protect your data.

Ensure that the firewall on your operating system is enabled and consider using a dedicated hardware firewall for an added layer of security.

 

4. Safe browsing practices

Adopting safe browsing habits can significantly reduce the risk of malware infections.

Avoid clicking on suspicious links, downloading unknown attachments or visiting untrusted websites.

Use a secure browser and enable features like pop-up blockers and phishing filters to protect against malicious sites.

 

5. Email security

Email is a common spreader of viruses and spyware.

Be cautious when opening emails from unknown senders, and never download attachments or click on links in suspicious messages.

Most email services have spam filters and malware detection tools – make sure these are turned on and configured correctly.

 

6. Regular backups

Regularly backing up your data is an essential part of computer protection process.

In case of a malware attack, having a recent backup ensures you can restore your system to a pre-infection state.

Use both cloud services and external hard drives to maintain multiple backups, and automate the backup process to ensure it’s done consistently.

If you're unsure how to set this up yourself, hiring a professional computer expert to handle it for you is worth its weight in gold.

While it might seem like an unnecessary cost, what price can you put on safeguarding your sensitive personal data?

 

7. Avoiding pirated software

Pirated software often contains hidden malware.

So stick to legitimate sources when downloading software.

Always verify the publisher and read reviews to ensure the software is safe, and always visit the software provider’s website by directly typing in their URL or a going through a verified search result link – never click through an ad or pop up on a third-party website.

Using genuine software not only helps protect your computer but also supports developers who create secure and reliable applications.

 

8. Using secure networks

Public Wi-Fi networks can be a breeding ground for cyber threats.

Avoid accessing sensitive information over public networks, and use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your data when you need to connect to an unsecured network.

A VPN creates a secure tunnel for your data, making it much harder for hackers to intercept your information.

 

9. Protecting personal information

Your personal information is uber-valuable to cybercriminals.

So be careful about the information you share online, and tighten up your privacy settings on all your online accounts and social media platforms.

Use strong, unique passwords for different accounts and consider a password manager to keep track of them securely (and to stop you going crazy trying to remember them all!).

Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection too, by requiring a second form of verification. It's an essential part of protecting your computer from the threat of viruses, and something we always strongly recommend.

 

10. Monitoring for unusual activity

Regularly check your system for any unusual activity.

If your computer suddenly slows down, displays unexpected pop-ups or behaves erratically, it might be infected.

Run a thorough antivirus scan and consider seeking professional help if the issue persists.

 

11. Seek professional advice

On that note, speaking with a professional computer expert, like the team at IT Warehouse, can be incredibly helpful when it comes to protecting your computer from viruses.

They can explain anything you’re unsure about, help you choose the best antivirus software for your needs and give you the most up-to-date advice on keeping your sensitive data safe, and offer regular servicing and security checks to make sure you’re covered.

Investing in expert advice can make a HUGE difference when it comes to your computer’s security, and having someone ‘in the know’ on your side when it comes to cyber security is certainly a bonus.

 

12. Educate yourself and others

Because there’s always new ones popping up, staying informed about the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices is crucial.

Educate yourself and those around you about safe computing habits, subscribe to your anti-virus’ software updates and make sure that you keep an eye on the media, who often report on the most serious and widespread threats.

Much like not falling victim to a phone scam, awareness and vigilance are your best allies against malware, viruses and super sneaky spyware.

 

Keeping your computer safe from malware and viruses is all about taking proactive steps and building good habits.

Regularly updating your software, using strong antivirus protection and browsing the internet carefully are key everyday things you can do to make sure your personal data stays, well… personal.

It's also important to back up your data securely and be cautious about what you download.

Staying informed about potential threats and how to prevent them can really help in protecting your computer from viruses and spyware too.

By following these best practices, you can enjoy a safer and more secure computing experience.

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Why IT Warehouse for all your PC gaming, computer repair and IT needs?

Our comprehensive warranty offers complete peace-of-mind.

Plus, all computers are serviced at our local Adelaide store. No interstate wait times!

Offering a range of computer sales, servicing, repairs and network set up and data recovery services right here in Adelaide, IT Warehouse provides homes, businesses and serious gamers with high quality tech products, exceptional service and expert advice.

Setting the benchmark for computer sales in Adelaide, we specialise in laptops and desktops for both gaming and home office use, as well as custom-built, extreme gaming PCs.

We also provide fully-customised small business IT support and networking solutions - which means you can count on our team of highly qualified IT experts to solve all your computer or tech issues.

And if you’re simply in need of computer repairs? We’ve got you covered there too.

 

Don’t believe us? Check out all our 5 star Google reviews to find out what our happy clients are saying.

 

Want to know more? Jump over to these other handy blogs :

 

And for any extra information, questions or service enquiries, please get in touch.

Phone: (08) 8296 3211  |  Email: sales@itwarehouse.com.au

 

At IT Warehouse, we know computers.

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