Always follow these three basic tips.
1. Install an Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware program. Be sure to keep this up to date and do weekly full scans.
2. Set up your Windows Update to automatically download patches and upgrades. This will allow your computer to automatically download any updates to both the operating system (i.e. Windows) and Internet Explorer. These updates fix security holes in both pieces of software.
3. Install and use an alternative web browser such as “Firefox” or “Google chrome” which generally poses less of a security risk.
Doing the above is the basic minimum that you should do to help protect your computer but will not guarantee 100% protection. To further reduce the possibility of getting a virus or similar please read the following advice:
1. Email is a common way of getting infected. While you can safely open an Email, NEVER click on a link within it or open an attachment that you are not positive is from a trusted source.
Here are 2 scenarios:
a. You get an Email from someone you DON’T know. You open it. It tells you (or, persuades you) to click on a link in the Email. You do so. That is when you get infected. Frequently, the Email appears to be from a bank or a company you know. Do not fall for this. Businesses do not normally send unsolicited Email.
b. You get (what appears to be) an Email from someone you DO know. Unknown to you, a virus generated that Email (and not your friend). It could be that your friend’s computer is infected, but, not always. Obviously, the actual Email writer doesn’t know you and cannot say anything personal to you, so, typically, it says something like “Click on this link for some important information… “. You are now infected. If in doubt, delete the Email.
2. With instant messengers the same caution should be used with opening links and attachments as Emails.
3. Visiting Adult, Free game or gambling sites pose a high risk of infection. In addition, do not download software or “Add-ons” from web sites that you are unfamiliar with. This includes sites such as “Facebook” and “MySpace”.
4. Do not click on sudden pop-up windows while browsing the internet. Some viruses start as a pop-up off a website that tries to make you think it is your virus protection telling you that your system is infected. Close all pop-ups by hitting the red “x” in the corner.
5. Do not use disks or USB drives that other people give you. They could be infected with a virus. Of course, you can run a virus scan on it first, but remember Anti-Virus programs are not 100% effective.
6. Stay away from file-sharing sites. Sites that distribute illegal software, music, or movies are known to be riddled with viruses. This includes torrents or other forms of P2P activities (Limewire for example). Staying away from these sites and programs is in your computer’s best interest, as well as a good way to avoid being sued for copyright violation.
The above advice is generally good practice to follow but is not a 100% guarantee that your computer will not get infected again in the future, however, by following these tips you minimize the possibility greatly.