In all likelihood, you’ve dealt with a computer virus at some point. Whether the virus was a fairly minor one or one that facilitated immense personal distress, odds are you don’t want a repeat of the situation. Furthermore, even if you’ve been lucky enough to avoid virus infection up to now, one small mistake can bring your lucky streak to an abrupt end. That being the case, you’d do well to take preventative measures against viruses instead of leaving things up to chance. Anyone who’s ready to get serious about cybersecurity should put the following pointers into practice.
Use Dedicated Antivirus Software
Dedicated antivirus software should serve as the cornerstone of your virus prevention efforts. Although most operating systems are equipped with cybersecurity properties, these should be viewed as a complement to dedicated software, not a substitute for it. The right antivirus software can protect your PC from a host of viruses and other digital dangers and work in tandem with your operating system to ensure long-term safety.
Of course, this isn’t to say that every dedicated antivirus program is equally obliging. While some will provide your PC with lasting protection, others are ill-equipped to tackle certain types of cyberthreats. To prevent yourself from getting stuck with a lemon, make a point of being discerning when shopping around for specialized antivirus software. This means limiting your options to programs that receive favorable consumer reviews, come from renowned developers and offer frequent patches and updates. Furthermore, for maximum effectiveness, make sure to install these updates as they become available.
Reexamine Your Browsing Habits
Unwise browsing habits often result in infected computers. Truth be told, most of us could stand to be more careful when navigating the web. Since we believe that the likelihood of contracting viruses is low, we won’t hesitate to visit suspicious sites, click on suspicious links or download files from suspicious sources. Unsurprisingly, such habits are hardly conducive to proper cybersecurity. Fortunately, it’s never too late to reexamine your browsing habits.
For starters, make sure any site you visit has a secure socket layer (SSL) certificate. SSL certificates are small data files that establish encrypted links between data servers and browsers. Such certificates are particularly important for sites where users regularly input financial data and other personal info. You can confirm whether or not a site possesses an SSL certificate by looking at its web address. If the address begins with “https,” the site is SSL certified.
In addition to being mindful of which sites you visit, avoid downloading files from links provided on social media platforms and other sites that specialize in user-generated content. In some instances, the links may redirect you to websites that are crawling with viruses and malware. Other times, you may wind up downloading installation files that contain viruses.
Regularly Update Your Apps and Operating System
In order to keep your applications and operating system running at peak efficiency, you’ll need to update them on a consistent basis. This means installing updates and patch files as soon as they come available, not days, weeks or even months after the fact. These updates are often created for the purpose of patching security vulnerabilities and stamping out emerging threats.
Unfortunately, when presented with update notifications, many of us have no qualms about hitting “Remind me later” and letting installation remain on the backburner indefinitely. While not wanting to be disturbed when you’re using your computer is perfectly understandable, failing to install updates in a timely manner only serves to make your PC less safe. To help rid yourself of the temptation to procrastinate, simply enable automatic updates for your operating system and apps.
As anyone who’s gone toe-to-toe with a particularly nasty virus can attest, cybersecurity is not something to be taken lightly. One wrong move can result in a perfectly healthy computer finding itself at the mercy of a devastating virus. However, while viruses present a very real danger, preventing them from taking hold of your PC is far from an uphill battle. With the proper tips at your disposal, keeping viruses at bay can be a surprisingly simple and stress-free undertaking. In the interest of keeping your computer virus-free for the foreseeable future, make good use of the measures discussed above.