Almost everyone using personal computers today also uses the Internet. While the Internet can provide us with hours of entertainment and many conveniences, it also has a darker side. The Internet is the primary conduit for computer viruses and hacker attacks.
A computer virus is an undesirable computer program that can do anything from being a minor annoyance to destroying all data on your computer. An Internet hacker is someone who attempts to access your computer over the Internet without your permission. Hackers can steal or destroy your data, collect your credit card numbers and computer passwords, or even erase everything on your computer.
Because these threats are larger today than ever before, it is important that you take the steps necessary to protect yourself from being negatively impacted by them.
Protecting Yourself From Computer Viruses
Viruses are most commonly spread by way of Internet Email, usually in the form of Email attachments. Emails that have attachments are usually marked with a paper clip in your email inbox. Do not accept Emails with attachments from unknown sources. This will minimize the chance of receiving a virus. Simply delete an Email from your inbox if it has an attachment and is from an unknown source.
Most viruses can only be "activated" if you open the attachment with the virus. Therefore, if you open an Email from an unknown recipient and then notice it has an attachment, DO NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT. However, only some types of files are capable of containing viruses. The most common of these are files that end in ".exe, .com, .bat, .doc, .xls, and .vbs". Be most cautious about opening these types of files.
Some viruses actually use your address book to spread the virus to people on your contact list. Therefore, it is possible to get viruses from friends, associates, and/or relatives, so be cautious!
Your best defense against viruses is installing a recent anti-virus program for your computer and keeping it up to date. The reason you need a recent program is because viruses take on new forms all of the time and newer anti-virus programs are more likely to stop newer viruses in their tracks before you are affected by them. You need to keep your anti-virus software up to date because new viruses are released into the Internet every day. The anti-virus program we recommend most often is Avast! which is available for free for non-commercial use and competitively priced for commercial use.
Protecting Yourself From Hacker Attacks
While virus attacks are often detectable, hackers often "sneak" into your computer, make copies of your data, and leave without ever being detected. The easiest way to protect yourself from hacker attacks is to use what is called a firewall. A firewall is either a hardware device or a special software program which "filters" out unwanted would-be visitors to your computer. If you have a network of connected computers, a hardware firewall can be easier to maintain because there is only one firewall to install and configure.
We hope you find the information provided here helpful in keeping your Internet activity safe from Virus and Hacker attacks. If you have questions or comments about this information, please feel free to contact us.