Keeping Your Computer Virus-Free
Now that many of us are working, learning, and connecting virtually from home, it’s never been more important to keep your computer virus-free. Physically, to prevent the spread of germs and risk of Covid-19, be sure to regularly wipe down commonly touched surfaces. That includes keyboards, mouse/touch pads, phones, iPads, and other touchscreen devices. Wash your hands for twenty seconds with soap before and after using shared tech, like your home keyboard. To prevent digital virus infection by malicious software, also remember to practice safe online behavior. The following tips are helpful to follow at any time to keep a computer virus-free.
Stick to secure websites
- When you know the web address (URL) of the site you want to visit (e.g. pcninja.us), type that directly into URL bar rather than searching for it (e.g. “ninja computer repair”). This minimizes the risk of clicking on an irrelevant and possibly unsafe search result. In general, try to stick to companies and individuals you know and trust.
- When assessing search results, make sure you check the URL that appears with the title and use the snippet provided to verify that is sounds like the site you want.
- Once you visit a site you will reference often, save it as a bookmark or favorite. You can then use that link to go right to the site instead of searching for it each time.
- Double check your spelling to avoid ending up on “typo squatting” sites. These spurious sites use common misspellings of popular companies to land you on a fake webpage.
- Any time you are doing something secure, like processing payment information, make sure the web address begins with “https,” which indicates it is secure. Often your browser will show a closed lock icon to indicate that it is safe.
Avoid clicking on ads
Even many legitimate websites can be full of third-party advertisements; some may be safe, and some are not. In general, it is best to avoid clicking on them directly. If a product in an ad interests you, it would be better to search for the company’s website or that product by name and go to their website directly.
Avoid common malware hubs
Adult content sites, file sharing, and spurious free gaming or peer-to-peer video/music download sites are often infested with malware. Hackers and scammers want to infect as many devices as possible. Therefore, they will target unsecure sites that get a lot of traffic and where users are likely to download files. The files that you click to view or download on these websites can be packaged with viruses. Or they might contain PUPs (potentially unwanted programs) that are not infections but could slow down computer performance.
Beware of scams
From phishing emails that try to harvest personal information to scareware pop-ups that claim your computer is infected to get you to call a number and allow fake tech support to take control of your computer, online scams are ever-present. Never clicks on links in an email from an unknown sender, and never call a number from a bogus alert or allow an unknown caller to remote into your computer.
There are scams specifically related to Covid-19 as well. Visit the Federal Trade Commission website for updated lists of rising scams: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/scam-alerts
The FBI website also has tips related to scams and online safety: https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/on-the-internet
In case of infection…
If you notice that your computer is running slow, getting pop-ups, the browser’s homepage has changed, or links are being redirected to other websites, it may be infected with viruses. If running your antivirus program and Windows system updates does not take care of these problems, you may need to have a professional scan and manually remove malware. PC Ninja offers computer tune-ups that address these issues. We can get your computer running in tip-top shape so you can continue working virtually.
Stay safe, and keep yourselves and your computer virus-free!