Using multiple layers of security is the best way to protect your computer and information while online. In the previous articles of my series "Who Do You Trust?", I have talked about passwords, Internet routers and firewalls as layers of protection. In this article I will talk about another layer that is a critical part of the layered approach to computer security, anti-virus software.
"Antivirus or anti-virus software is software used to prevent, detect and remove malware, such as: computer viruses, adware, backdoors, malicious BHOs, dialers, fraudtools, hijackers, keyloggers, malicious LSPs, rootkits, spyware, trojan horses and worms." - Wikipedia
Are you scared yet? You do want to prevent all this, right? Credit card numbers, bank account numbers and passwords, and social security numbers are things that everyone should guard carefully for obvious reasons. But, even as they take reasonable precautions to keep their personal information and valuables protected in many ways, some will let their guard down where they are most vulnerable, online.
Even the least damaging virus infections are costly but, the worst case can be devastating! If you are lucky and none of your financial or personal information is stolen, you may still lose the use of your computer, your documents, pictures, music or other media and software you have purchased. Time without your computer and time to recreate or restore documents have real costs. Virus removal by a reputable professional can be costly as well. I will save virus removal for a future article but, suffice it to say here, you should get professional help to remove viruses.
One of the more insidious effects of a virus infection is the fear that you didn't get all of them removed or, that you removed them too late and someone already has your info. Yes, I have experienced this fear first hand. I remove viruses and spyware from computers as a professional, and I have removed viruses from my own computers. Believe me when I say, I know it is important to be thorough when cleaning viruses from a computer!
Here are the most important considerations for the antivirus software security layer:
* Update your computer software often.
* Use reputable antivirus software that also protects you from spyware.
* Update your antivirus software automatically and daily.
* Configure your antivirus software for real time protection and scheduled file scanning.
* Don't open attachments in email unless you know that they are from a trusted source.
* Don't download files from the Internet unless you know that they are from a trusted source.
* Use your antivirus software to scan email attachments and files downloaded from the Internet before you open them, regardless of the source.
* Do not use peer to peer file sharing programs. These include programs such as Limewire, Bearshare, Gnutella, Morpheus, Torrents, etc.
* Don't download software from Warez, pirate or cracked software websites