If you’ve been using computers for quite a time, you’ve already been aware of computer viruses. Chances are that you’ve been a victim of any computer virus in the past too. Before diving into the safety measures, first let’s see what actually are viruses, how do they attack and from where do they come from?
What is a computer virus?
A computer virus is a program (malicious) which on running, reproduces itself and infects other programs too. A virus is written in such a way that It keeps spreading itself from one computer to the other.
How do viruses attack?
Let’s say you got a program with which a virus is attached. The virus won’t work until you run that program. Once you’ve run that program, the virus can also affect other computers present on the same network. They can steal your passwords by acting as a keylogger or corrupting files, damaging your computer’s hard disks. These were some of the examples of what a virus can do.
Where do viruses come from?
The most common answers to this question are:
- Files downloaded from Internet
- Email attachments
- Malicious links
- By connecting external drives (USB’s etc.)
How to be safe from viruses?
Now comes the main section of this post. How can you save yourself from computer viruses?
There are many security measures which you can take, I’ll explain each of them in detail.
1. Using Antiviruses
Antiviruses are the programs which detect computer viruses and remove them from your computer. You should always have an antivirus software installed, especially If you’re a Windows user since 90% of the viruses target Windows users. An antivirus software will keep scanning your computer for viruses. If at any point, It detects something malicious, It’ll notify you and will remove that virus. There are many free and paid antiviruses software present in the market. Below are some of the most commonly used free antivirus software:
- Bitdefender Antivirus Free
- Kaspersky Free Antivirus
- Avast Free Antivirus
- AVG Antivirus Free
- Panda Free Antivirus
- Avira Free Antivirus
Always make sure that your antivirus program starts automatically when a computer is started. This ensures that you are getting protected all the time.
2. Don’t download shady files
The second security measure is to not download files which comes from unreliable sources. The internet is filled with viruses. Always make sure that the email attachment you’re going to download is sent by a safe person/company. Never download random email attachments.
One another great source of viruses is free pirated software. When you download pirated software from the internet for free, either It’s Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop etc. you have no idea what kind of file that website is providing you. It’s always best to stay away from such files and only use official company’s website to download stuff.
You can also use VirusTotal, to check that the files you’re going to download are virus free or not.
3. Don’t click random links
If you use social media, then you already might have seen a lot of spam links. Never click on links given to you by strangers. Even if someone (unknown person) has posted a link saying that you’ll get a free iPhone, use your common sense. Visiting that link would only result in your PC getting infected.
It’s always recommended to make sure whether the link you’re going to click is safe. You can once again use VirusTotal URL Scan feature to check that link for viruses.
4. Don’t connect unknown external drives to your computer
This is one of the easiest ways for a virus to spread. Never attach your external drive (USB etc.) to an infected PC or any other unknown external drive to your PC. Whenever you connect your drives to malicious PC’s (let’s assume, in an internet cafe), the virus spreads itself from that computer to your drive and when you’ll plug it on your computer, It’ll spread itself to your computer too.
You can use USB Disk Security on your computer. It’s a free program which basically scans your USB for viruses and removes them.
It’s also recommended to turn off autorun and autoplay functionality in Microsoft Windows so that files do not start running as soon as an external device is attached to your computer.
5. Using Sandboxie
Sandboxie is a program which basically creates an isolated environment for your programs to run on. This process is called a sandbox. To help you understand It better, Here’s an example which is also written on Sandboxie’s F.A.Q.
Imagine that your computer is a paper. Each program you run results in writing on that paper. Same is the case for Internet browsers, every time you visit a website, something is written on that paper (your computer). Now in these writings, let’s assume there are many viruses too. Sandboxie acts as a transparent layer above your paper so everything is placed on that transparent layer instead of the real paper.
I personally use Sandboxie whenever I need to run a program which I’ve downloaded from an unknown source. What this does is that even If the program is infected with a virus, It’ll only run in that isolated environment and I can delete that environment anytime so It won’t affect my computer.
You can download Sandboxie from Its website.
Above were some of the safety measures which you should use. I personally also use them. These days viruses are also getting more and more advanced. You should always keep your software, especially antiviruses up-to-date so they can update their databases and detect latest viruses which are out in the wild. Aside from these measures, you should also use your common sense, as mentioned above in the post. Anything (link/offer etc.) which seems too good or is from an unknown shady source will 90% result in a virus.
This was a basic post. Most of you should already be aware of the stuff which I’ve mentioned but still, there are some people who are unaware. I hope you guys learned something. If you’ve any questions, ask them through the comments and I’ll be happy to answer them as soon as I can.