How to protect your computer online against viruses and spyware

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Fighting Viruses

Advancements in Antivirus Software Suites
help you with fighting viruses

Apart from fighting email spam, protecting your computer from a virus is getting harder and harder each day. While it may border on the paranoid, it goes without saying that you can’t leave your guard down for one second.

Even corporate giant Microsoft has found its own systems compromised on more than one occasion. This article provides some usefl advice on how to protect your computer against viruses.

The Advent of Internet Provides an Easy Conduit for Viruses

Remember the "good old days", before the advent of the Internet and downloadable programs? Life was simple then in terms of computer viruses. With the primary way in which a virus could be transmitted being limited to floppy disks, the ability to catch and eradicate the virus was a lot easier. By today’s standards, it used to take quite a while before a virus was able to infect a computer and slow down the system. The antivirus software of that time was typically able to identify and eradicate viruses before they caused too much damage. Additionally, computer users were pretty savvy on how to protect themselves in terms of scanning all floppy disks before copying them to our desktop.

The Internet helped change all that. The Internet provided a conduit by which viruses could move from host to host with lightening speed. No longer could a computer user just worry about floppy disks as points of entry, but they now had to worry about email, email attachments, peer-to-peer file sharing, instant messaging, and software downloads. Today’s viruses can attack through multiple entry points, spread without human intervention, and take full advantage of vulnerabilities within a system or program. With technology advancing everyday, and the convergence of computers with other mobile devices, the potential of new types of threats also increase.

How to Avoid Getting Infected by Computer Virus

Luckily, the advancement of antivirus software has kept pace with current virus threats. Antivirus software is essential to a computer’s ability to fend off viruses and other malicious programs. These products are designed to protect against the ability of a virus to enter a computer through email, web browsers, file servers and desktops. Additionally, these programs offer a centralized control feature that handle deployment, configuration and updating.

A computer user should remain diligent and follow a few simple steps to protect against the threat of a virus:

1. Evaluate your current computer security system

With the threat of a new generation of viruses able to attack in a multitude of ways, the approach of having just one antivirus software version has become outdated. You need to be confident that you have protected all aspects of your computer system from the desktop to the network, and from the gateway to the server. Consider a more comprehensive security system which includes several features including antivirus, firewall, content filtering, and intrusion detection. This type of system will make it more difficult for the virus to penetrate your system.

2. Only install antivirus software created by a well-known, reputable company

Because new viruses erupt daily, it is important that you regularly update your antivirus software. Become familiar with the software’s real-time scan feature and configure it to start automatically each time you boot your computer. This will protect your system by automatically checking your computer each time it is powered up.

3. Make it a habit to always scan all new programs or files no matter from where they originate

Never download any programs from an unknown source, no matter how tempting they may sound, especially if they're freeware or shareware. Such programs can often contain spyware.

4. Exercise caution when opening binary, Word, or Excel documents of unknown sources

This is especially important if they were received during an online chat or as an attachment to an email. Or even downloaded from an unknown site.

5. Perform regular backups in case your system is corrupted

The more important your data and cosuments are, the more regularly and more promptly should you back them up. It may be the only way for you to recover your data if infected with a virus that can't be removed.

Recommended Software for Fighting Viruses

There are numerous applications available to consumers. With a little research, you can pick the program that is right for you. Many programs provide a trial version which allows you to download the program and test its abilities. However, be aware that some anti-virus programs can be difficult to uninstall. As a precaution make sure to set up a System Restore point before installing.

Here are a few programs which typically receive high marks in terms of cost, effectiveness, ease of use, and customer service.

» The Shield Pro 2005™ 

The Shield Pro provides virus protection and hacker security through ongoing support and updates. When a virus breaks out, The Shield Pro 2005™ promises to provide a patch within 2-3 hours and a fix for the virus within 5 hours. You can set your computer to update viruses weekly and run a complete virus scan.

» BitDefender 9 Standard 

Bit Defender provides antivirus protection, as well as Peer-2-Peer Applications protection, full email protection, and heuristics in a virtual environment. This provides a new security layer that keeps the operating system safe from unknown viruses by detecting malicious pieces of code for which signatures have not been released yet.

» Kaspersky Anti-Virus Personal

Kaspersky antivirus program is simple to install and use. The user only needs to choose from three levels of protection. It allows updates as frequently as every hour while promising not to disrupt your computer. The program also offers a two-tier email protection feature and round-the-clock technical support.

» PC-cillin Internet Security 

This internet security program combines antivirus security and a personal firewall—for comprehensive protection against viruses, worms, Trojans, and hackers. It also detects and removes spyware and blocks spam. It even guards against identity theft by blocking phishing and pharming attacks.

» AVG Anti-Virus Free

AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition is a free downloadable antivirus program that has received high marks for its reliability. In the past, free downloadable antivirus programs have been viewed skeptically because of issues relating to its reliability. However, AVG from Grisoft, remains one of the best-known free anti-virus programs available. While AVG can not be installed on a server operating system and there is no technical support, it still makes a good choice for many home computer users. The best part is that since it is free, you can try it with no further obligation necessary.

Computer Virus Articles:

  • Antivirus Programs Tips - When choosing antivirus software for your new or old computer, there are some basics that you should know before you decide on what antivirus program to download and install on your computer system.  
  • Computer Virus Prevention - Simple and practical steps will help you protect your computer against viruses by preventing your system from being infected by a virus. 
  • Computer Virus Protection - What is a computer virus and how to best protect your computer system from viruses and other online threats. 
  • Computer Viruses and Worms - While many computer viruses are just designed to annoy us, some can cause serious computer damage. This particularly applies to worms, which are usually amongst most destructive viruses. See the list of more destructive worms and trojans, and what they can do to your computer.  
  • Fighting Computer Viruses - Antivirus programs generally keep pace with current virus threats. But instead of only relying on those programs doing their job, take some simple steps to protect your computer and avoid getting infected by a virus.  
  • Avast Antivirus Program - One of the best free antivirus programs is Avast Antivirus. If you're not already familiar with this program, read our review of this easy to use antivirus program and how to use it.  
  • Norton Antivirus Program - Who hasn't yeat heard of Symantec's Norton Antivirus!? One of the most reliable, paid antivirus programs is easy to use and provides a good all-round protection for your computer.  
  • Trojan Horse - Even if you're an occasional computer user, no doubt you know about trojan horses and the threat they can pose to your computer. Often masquerading as a harmless application, trojan horse can be a destructive program. 
  • Zone Alarm - One of the internet security programs that should be on your computer as part of online protection. Available both in free and paid version, Zone Alarm monitors your online traffic and acts as a firewall, to protect your computer against malware threats.