For years computer professionals have been teaching people what to be afraid of, how to avoid disaster and how to keep things running smoothly. The problem comes when a little mis-information or an unimportant practice spreads across the entire industry.
The issues and solutions surrounding computer viruses and overall performance are probably the most commonly misunderstood computer problems that affect almost everyone.
The most important steps to avoiding viruses include:
- Understand how they are most commonly installed
- Learn how they are delivered to you
- Take measures to prevent virus infection
How are computer viruses installed?
MOST OF THE TIME it is YOU who will perform the installation when you think you are performing an update, installing a useful tool, or adding a web plugin.
A long time ago it was COMMON to directly get a virus by simply leaving your computer on, due to the total lack of security in Windows and the practice of directly connecting to the Internet without a router. Now, due to security and network changes the most common way to get a virus is to be tricked into installing it yourself.
Most computers are configured with you as an administrator so all you have to do is click “Ok” and BAM you are infected.
So yes, I did just say you are responsible… or rather you are tricked or misled into installing it, but lets take a look at how.
How are viruses delivered to you?
Website vulnerabilities – For years the most common web platforms like Word Press have been scrutinized for security holes and if they are not regularly updated they will eventually get hacked.
Once a site is hacked – The attacker can implant links that will download a virus to your computer. THIS IS WHY you can be visiting a site that you have trusted for years and then out of the blue get a virus pushed out on you.
Shady Websites – Nothing is truly “free” on the internet, so if you can’t figure out a good monetary reason for a free software or service online BE CAREFUL. Look out particularly in the case of a website that uses manipulative wording or scare tactics like, “we detected 207 viruses on your computer Click Here to clean your computer”. In reality they have no idea if you currently have a virus but they would be more than happy to install some and then charge you to clean them up.
Torrents – In the case of torrents you are often playing Russian roulette with not only viruses but the law. Nevertheless torrents can actually be used to effectively share or distribute files in legal and safe ways.
Email – Once a computer has a virus it may capture a local contact list and email credentials to spread itself to all of your friends. Email can also be used in creative ways like someone can send out messages using your email as the sending address and a false email as the recipient, this will cause the message to bounce back to the sender (you) and land in your inbox regardless of your spam filters.
Local attacker – This is less common at home and more common at a large company or school. The general rule is that if a reasonably talented hacker has access to a physical computer he can quickly compromise it.
Part 2 will explore prevention and the role that antivius software can play. Coming soon..
If your computer is slow or you think you have a virus…
If your computer is already a mess and you suspect it has malware or viruses we can help you get it back up and running quickly with a clean install of Windows while keeping all of your data and configuring your Outlook, QuickBooks or any other programs you need set up.