All computers that connect to the Internet and/or receive email are vulnerable to contracting computer viruses. Viruses can range in destructive nature from the simply irritating to those that cause marked damage and corrupt files beyond recovery. Some viruses even capture all of the email addresses in an email program and send unsavory emails to everyone on the list. This can be devastating to the reputation of a business if these emails are sent to customers using their business email client.
Beyond Anti-Virus Software
Every Windows-based computer should have a reliable anti-virus software program installed, but even the most vigilant program can let some viruses slip by. Some other common, but rarely followed, rules of thumb are as follows: don’t install software from untrustworthy sources, don’t click on pop-up ads and don’t open email from senders with whom you are unfamiliar — being especially wary of attachments.
Make certain all of the latest updates and security patches for your Windows operating system are installed. These patches correct vulnerabilities in the code that virus writers exploit when writing their malicious programs. A good way to keep up with this is to make certain that auto updates are turned on for the operating system.
Use Windows Defender, It's Free
Windows offers a free tool called Windows Defender for use with Microsoft Vista and XP. This tool prevents infection from Spyware, Adware and other malware. These seem to be less vigilant than the ones on the commercial market such as Adware and SpyBot Search and Destroy. Both of these commercial programs have been known to halt innocent activity by mistake, which can become annoying.
Does the Browser I Use Matter?
Internet Explorer is a much more vulnerable Web browser than other choices available such as Mozilla Firefox or Opera. If you don’t want to make the switch to Firefox or Opera, make certain that all the latest security patches are installed for Explorer.
Can Macs Get Viruses?
Like all computers connected to the Internet, Macs can become infected with a virus. However, that being said, the chances of a Mac user becoming infected with a virus compared to a Windows user are slim to none. The Mac operating system is built on the UNIX kernel. This is one of the most secure systems available today. There are far fewer users of the Mac operating system as well, which makes them not as interesting as a target for virus coders. Most of the scripts and tools available for creators of viruses and other nefarious code are created for the Windows platform.
Do I Need to Purchase Expensive Anti-Virus Software?
Antivirus software is a necessity for any computer user connected to the Internet; however, it can become costly if several computers need protection. One option for those on a budget is an open source program called ClamWin. Not as powerful as the commercial varieties, it will do the job until you can afford one of the big guys for free.