Protect Against Email and Computer Viruses

March 8, 2021

Protect Yourself and Your Devices

Today we use internet-connected devices in all aspects of our lives. We go online to search for information, shop, bank, do homework, play games, and stay in touch with family and friends through social networking. As a result, our devices contain a wealth of personal information about us. This may include banking and other financial records, and medical information—information that we want to protect. If your devices are not protected, identity thieves and other fraudsters may be able to get access and steal your personal information. Spammers could use your computer as a “zombie drone” to send spam that looks like it came from you. Malicious viruses or spyware could be deposited on your computer, slowing it down or destroying files.

By using safety measures and good practices to protect your devices, you can protect your privacy and your family. The following tips are offered to help you lower your risk while you’re online.

Don’t Trust Email

One of the major ways that many computers end up being infected is by users receiving links via email that take them into dangerous territory. If an email comes from a suspicious source, ignore it, especially if it promises you riches, work from home opportunities, or anything else that seems too good to be true. That’s the bait on the hook.

Since many email-dependent viruses often use your own address book against you, you also should be leery of any email from friends or family that entices you to click on a link. These could very easily be the result of an infection that the person didn’t even know they had gotten. Always be sure to check the sender information to ensure it really is from someone you know.

Get the Best Anti-Virus Software You can Find

Keep your antivirus software up to-date and keep your software subscription up to date and do not let it lapse. Choose a product that automatically renews. The top ranked in Anti-Virus software packages in recent rankings include, Norton, McAfee, PCProtect and TotalAV.

The market for anti-virus software is deep and rich, with loads of options for high-quality protection that doesn’t cost you anything. Avast, Avira, Bitdefender, AVG, and Panda all have free choices that are good for personal use. You load them up, keep them updated, and let them do their work. Don’t trust your operating system alone to handle the task, make sure you have these guard dogs in place.

Back Everything Up

External hard drives are fairly cheap and can give you a huge storage solution where you can put all your data. You can program your computer to automatically back up everything onto a separate drive so even if your computer is attacked, you can wipe your hard drive and restore it from the backup saves.

This is a smart way to go even if you don’t fear viruses, since there’s precious information stored on your machine(s) that could be lost to basic hard drive failure.

Get a Password Manager

Strong passwords help you stay safe all across the internet, but no one has the ability to keep all of them in their head. You should use automatically generated passwords that have capital letters, numbers, and special characters mixed in with a completely random setup. These can all be handled by a password manager that can be accessed by simply remembering a single password. These will also provide different passwords for every site you visit and every account you have, so even if a hacker gets one password through a phishing webpage, they won’t be able to crack into anything else. Google Password Manager, NordPass, Dashlane and 1Password.ca are currently protecting millions of people in North America.

Have a Firewall

Operating systems come with built-in firewall protection, but you need to make sure it is enabled to give you an added layer of protection that works in conjunction with your anti-virus software.

Look for Security

In your browser’s address bar, where it tells you what .com, .org, .edu, or. whatever you’re at, there’s also a little code to notice – “https”. Website addresses that begin with “https” rather than just “http” or www are secure connections from prying eyes. These are specifically to allow you to transfer payment information that is encrypted. Before you type in a credit card number or authorize payment, glance up to see if you’re on a secure site or not. If not, you’re opening yourself up to identity theft as well as illicit virus, malware, or hacking.

Block Pop-Ups

Most pop-ups are harmless, but all it takes is one to cut your legs out from under you. Put a reputable blocker into your browser of choice and let it keep those at bay.

Adjust Browser Security Settings

Every browser has security built into it which you can change to more or less secure. Typically, the medium security settings are all you need. Your browser will then alert you if you’re headed into a website that’s dangerous or could potentially be harmful. It’s not foolproof, but if your browser is telling you something isn’t safe, don’t go forward unless you like being robbed and recovering from a system crash.

Secure Your Wireless Network

This is a dual-fold system. You should have a secure password to access your Wi-Fi, but you also should have a password that protects your modem or router from being hacked. Most modems or routers come with an administrative password that is the same right out of the box, which allows anyone in range of your Wi-Fi to access it, even if you have it password protected. Make sure you’ve changed your admin settings as well as added WEP, WPA, or some other password-security protocol.

Use a Browsing Protector

Absolutely necessary if you have children you must use some kind of protective software layers to your browser stops children and anyone else from accessing not only adult content such as pornography, but from visiting dangerous or unsecured sites. These will cost money, but that’s payment for peace of mind.

Avoid Open Wi-Fi

If an internet connection doesn’t have password protection, anyone can see anything you do on it. Don’t use it, or, if you must, don’t use it for anything sensitive or personal. It gives anyone on that network a straight pipeline into your computer, tablet, or phone, making it dangerous as hell.

If you’re like those of us who are really paranoid, having a Virtual Private Network (VPN) encrypts your data and then throws it away so that no one can see where you’ve been, what you’re doing, or get their claws on your passwords or other personal data. With the some governments refusing to protect information, this is the best way to hide from hackers while online.

Still interested in this topic? You can find more information at this government link: https://www.pensezcybersecurite.gc.ca/en/home