5 Cures for Common Computer Virusesby Milton Kazmeyer
Viruses and malware can wipe out important data, steal vital information and incapacitate your computer. Once it is infected, it can be days or even weeks before your system is clean and safe again. The key to curing common computer viruses is to avoid them to begin with. The following five guidelines can help prevent these malicious programs from gaining a foothold on your system.
The most important thing you can do to stay safe from computer viruses is to use a regularly updated antivirus program. Several different antivirus packages are on the market, ranging from free single-user systems to complex suites designed for multiple users in a business environment. Keeping your antivirus program up to date will help you avoid infection, as well as quickly isolate and remove any viruses that do make it through your defenses.
Many types of malware rely on security loopholes in your operating system. Windows Update allows you to download and install security patches as they come out, and installing such fixes as quickly as possible reduces the likelihood of a virus taking advantage of one of these gaps and infecting your system. For best results, set your system to download and install these patches automatically. Otherwise, regularly check your update status to be sure you do not miss an important update.
Email is one common way viruses can gain access to your system. You should always be wary of HTML-formatted messages, as these can contain hidden links to malicious websites designed to install viruses or keyloggers on your system. Watch for official-looking emails that contain odd misspellings or other mistakes, common signs of faked emails designed to take advantage of unwary users.
Using a secure browser can protect you from viruses and malware hidden in websites. Firefox, paired with the NoScript add-on, can block Java and Flash scripts from running on unknown web pages and protect you against malicious content. Internet Explorer also contains features designed to limit the ability of websites to plant programs on your computer; setting your security level to at least medium-high will prevent most web-based viruses.
Keeping your system up to date can prevent a lot of malware from finding a foothold, but many infections come from simple user error. Avoid opening email attachments unless you know what they are and why the sender included them. Download files from reputable sites, and be wary of programs from unknown sources such as peer-to-peer file sharing. A little common sense is an invaluable asset when it comes to heading off viruses and malware.