For the typical home user, these three terms can be very confusing. What is the difference between them? Are they different at all? Yes they are, but to you they are all the same thing – a pit, full of time and money. Since this is the case for most of us, we will use them as interchangeable terms. When they infect your computer, they can make your PC run incredibly slow, sometimes to the point of being unusable. They can block internet access, hack your email, track what you’re doing, and in some cases take full control of your computer for whatever their programmers’ malicious intent is. So how can you prevent against these infections? Cue the singing angels, because you’re about to find out.
Here at CompuType, we hear some form of this phrase at least once a day: How did my computer become infected when I pay for antivirus? I hate to say it, but antivirus is merely a first line of defense. Not to lessen the importance of a good antivirus program, but it’s not everything. The biggest part of prevention is your browsing habits. You must be careful of what you click on; always know where a link is going to take you before you click on it. If you don’t trust it, don’t click on it. This, however, can be easier said than done. I went to download CCleaner, a program very useful for cleaning out the temp files on your computer. Once at the free download page, I was presented with this:
This is a typical (even conservative) example of download link confusion. With three different download links, and only one being legitimate, people are understandably confused as to which button to click on. While this site doesn’t seem to have any malicious links, many other free download sites can have upwards of five or six different download buttons. Pressing on the wrong one can open the flood gates for malware, and your antivirus chance of catching it after it’s downloaded is spotty at best.
Here is another tricky one:
If you have seen something that looks like this, you were most likely somewhere on the internet you should not have been. If you have seen this more than once, you are most likely a teenage boy. The key to identifying this as an illegitimate message is the title bar. It is a message from Internet Explorer, in this case meaning it is no more than another internet window (pop-up). Had this been a legitimate message, your antivirus (avast, AVG, Norton, etc.) would be the one telling you that you need to run a scan, and would not ask you to download anything more than virus definitions. You should NEVER click on this window, as it gives the infected files permission to download onto your computer, most of the time bypassing your antivirus program. Out of all the different computers we service for virus infections, this is the most common means of infection.
There are, of course, other means of infection: email hoaxes, ads that promise you you’ll lose weight by using just this “one little trick” and so many more that it would be impossible to cover in this article. But luckily most of these can be thwarted by using a little common sense. If you know your grandma doesn’t know how to work her email program, don’t open the attachment she sent you from her account; it most likely wasn’t her. Don’t click on an advertisement that promises a free iPad, because anything that looks too good to be true probably is. And if you have a teenager, it may be best to invest in some sort of parental control software (here is a link to a PC Magazine article detailing several different programs), because he/she will most likely be the cause of your next virus infection. It’s nothing against anyone of that age, but teenagers (especially boys) are quick to click on ads that interest them without thinking about the consequences.
But wait, nothing about antivirus software was mentioned, how can that be? Simply put, it doesn’t really matter what antivirus software you have. There’s no doubt that some are better than others, but the determining factor of your computer’s safety is you.
Now that you’re armed with this new knowledge, keep in mind that internet trickery is everywhere. If you do happen to fall for any of these tricks, it is important that you get it fixed right away. The longer an infection is on your computer, the more information they can gather about you, or even worse, your bank account. If this ends up being the case, CompuType’s trained technicians will be happy to help you out of the extremely annoying and stressful situation that is a virus infection.