How can I protect myself from viruses?

Viruses are not fun, and some are dangerous to your bank account. Don't ever let a virus hang out in your computer for lack of wanting to do something about it. I know you have a busy life, but if you like your computer time and cherish your identity, get your computer to an expert if you think you are infected.

There are a few simple rules to keeping yourself safe from viruses and malware. Even with all of these precautions, there is still a chance of getting a virus, and when you do you will need to have it cleaned by a professional.

1. Make sure your computer is up-to-date on all the latest updates from your software manufacturer (Microsoft, Adobe, etc). Rather than leaving your updates to always on, I suggest you go straight to the software's site and get those updates.

2. Don't open email attachments from anyone, unless you know for sure what you are getting. For instance, if John at the office is sending you a document and you know that it is coming, this attachment is likely safe to open. But, if John sent you an attachment and you weren't expecting it, you probably should give him a call and ask what just showed up in your inbox.

3. Phishing emails are emails from people trying to get in your computer or steal information from you. The typical one will pretend to be someone else in your life (like a bank, a friend, UPS, IRS etc) and ask you all sorts of questions. The email may say things that really gets your blood pumping and anxious to "Click the Link To Fix".. STOP! Don't click links in emails. Even if you feel like they are safe, it just isn't worth it. If you think you need to visit your bank , or other important site right away, simply go straight to the site, and not by clicking a link in email. No reputable site will request your username and password in email EVER.

4. If you like downloading software from the internet, there is going to be some risk in getting viruses. I am not going to tell you to quit downloading software because there are many great programs out there, but you will have to be careful. Take time to research what you are getting and who you are getting it from. Also, when installing that software, look for other programs that might be trying to sneak in before the actual software is installed. There will usually be a button to "decline" this software and then another window will popup to finish installing the desired software. However, there can be many attached to one download so watch for them.

5. Use common sense. Don't click on shady ads like ones that say you have won something and the like. Sure some ads that look good can have viruses too but definitely use your head. Along with that common sense tidbit, also don't go searching and visiting sites that have a shady outward message. If you visit sites that promote hacking, promote pornography, use hate language or any promote any criminal activity you are at higher risk of someone being there that is a hacker and a virus spreader. You are free to do any of these things of course, and not all of the sites will have viruses but it definitely puts you in a higher risk bracket.

6. Anti-Virus programs are a MUST. They can remove and prevent many infections. Some are paid, some are free. Most all products for business ask you to pay for the programs. If you are using their product in this manner, please respect their right to charge for the program in a business setting. After all they will let you have as many free copies for your home products that you want. Remember antivirus programs alone cannot protect you, they are not a vaccine, but they are a good line of defense.