Tech Tips – Stop That Malware In It’s Tracks

MalwareePeople or companies that take the time to create and distribute malware are always looking for new ways to infect your computer device, whether it be a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. The advice below will help you take a few steps to make your electronic devices a hardened, and hopefully keep the hackers away from your computer.

(1) Keep your anti-virus and malware software up to date: You can generally set your computer system to automatically update the software if you have administrative permissions, such as with your home computer.  Don’t ignore the genuine software update messages you receive from your device; let them take place so your system remains protected.  If you aren’t sure how to tell if a software update message is legitimate, check out this article.  If you need recommends on what software to use, try Microsoft Security Essentials or Windows Defender.

(2) Get the latest software for all of your programs: Malware authors write new software every day and don’t always target your computer’s operating system.  The can also target software you have installed on your computer such as programs from Adobe, Java, or even your web browser.  You can configure some software to automatically update, similar to your malware programs.  Microsoft also provides an update page, providing links to update the most popular software.  To keep your Microsoft operating system up-to-date and configure automatic updates, check out this page.

(3) Know how malware works: How does malware get into your system.  Well for one, via email.  The standard advice always applies – don’t open attachments from those you don’t know, and scan every attachment with your malware prevention software (even those from trusted friends.  Secondly, be cautious in visiting and downloading from web sites you aren’t familiar with.  In addition to that free music player you just downloaded, you have also installed and unwanted piece of spyware.  Third, pirated software is a no-no ethically, often legally, and also for the safety and sanity of your computing experience.  The software packages are often bundled with other software you definitely don’t want on your computer.  Lastly, social engineering is a means for someone to convince you into taking an action you might not otherwise do, such as paying for a service you don’t need, or calling you and obtaining password information that makes your computer secure.  As I’ve said before, when in doubt, don’t give it out.  For a great read on social engineering, check out the Wikipedia page.

Understanding and applying these three tips will be a great way for you to keep your computer systems healthy.  While these topics are really just the tip of the iceberg, taking a few steps to make you less of an attractive target for malware scams will save you time, money, and heartache in the long run.  For those who would like a little more heavy reading, you can read the Guide To Malware Incident Prevention and Handling published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  See you next month!

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