Is your computer protected? It seems like we go for long stretches of months with very few virus problems. Then we get a bunch of folks coming to us asking for help getting rid of viruses. And the question we are frequently asked is: But how did I get infected?
In our experience there are three main methods a computer gets infected:
- Anti-Virus Program expires. If your virus subscription has expired, your computer is not protected. Yes, it is that simple. If you tell your doctor you don’t need a flu shot because you got one last year, he’ll tell you that was for last year’s flu, not this years’. The same applies to antivirus programs. If it has expired, you are protected for last week’s or last month’s viruses but not today’s.
- Willfully downloading a virus. This may happen unwittingly but it still happens all the time. Kids are the main victims of this method. They want to download a “cool” program from a web site but the cool program includes a virus that lets hackers take over your computer. This can circumvent the best antivirus program in much the same way all the vitamins in the world can’t protect you from colds if you’ve got kids.
- Too much protection. We are seeing more of this kind of problem. You start off with, for example, Norton Antivirus. Then when you go to renew online they’ve got a super-duper new program that has a firewall and anti-phishing, and all the bells and whistles you can imagine for just a few more dollars than the anti-virus program. Then as soon as you have it installed it starts asking you questions you don’t know the answer to. You restart your computer and suddenly it is going so slow you can hardly do anything. In frustration you turn off the antivirus program and suddenly everything speeds up so you leave it off and get infected.
We recommend just running an antivirus program without any extra bells or whistles. Most folks with high speed internet (commercial or residential) have some kind of firewall with their modem or router nowadays so you can separate the functions and let your computer just have the antivirus component.
Keep your antivirus UP TO DATE. If it is more than one month out of date, you could be in trouble.
And finally, run complete scans on your computer on a regular basis.