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by Dan Lhotka

One of the things we deal with most often is malware infections.  When I say malware, I am talking about viruses, spyware, adware, etc.  All the things that get into your computer and make it run slow and cause problems.  Malware gets on to your computer through three different methods.

  1. Web browsing – this can be going to a bad site (either through searching, or mistype) or, downloading and installing bad software (either directly, or as part of something else).
  2. Email – this can come from opening a message from someone you don’t know, or opening an message that looks like it is coming from a friend when in actuality, it is spam.
  3. USB – With floppy disks dead, USB keychains have become a popular way to move files from one computer to another.  However, they still have the same security as floppies – which is to say, none.  Plug a USB keychain into an infected computer, then plug it into a good computer, and it spreads infection.

Considering that virus protection companies are in a constant state of catchup with virus makers, it is impossible to totally prevent your computer from ever getting infected.  However, there are methods that can be used to help prevent your computer from being infected.

  1. Make sure Java, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Acrobat are all up to date.  Most of the web infections that happen now a days use security holes in older versions of this software.
  2. Don’t use browsers other than Internet Explorer.  Chrome, Firefox, and the others have been proven to be less secure than Internet Explorer.  I know they are faster than IE, but it’s not worth the risk.
  3. Have antivirus on the computer.  We recommend Microsoft Security Essentials, or Symantec Endpoint.cloud. Microsoft Security Essentials is pretty good, and is free.  Symantec Endpoint.cloud is much better at preventing infections, but it only available for businesses, and does not run well on older machines (PCS older than 4 years old).
  4. When downloading new software, pay attention.  Many “free applications” also come with other junk.  You need to uncheck the extraneous stuff.  Java and Adobe Acrobat both do this.  If at any point it doesn’t let you uncheck the extra stuff, then cancel the install.  No software is worth getting spyware on your computer.
  5. Delete Email messages from people you don’t know.  If a friend sends you an email with an attachment, don’t open the attachment unless you are positive they actually sent it.  I usually call my friends to double check, but most of the time, looking at the message, it is easy to tell what is spam and what isn’t.
  6. Reduce your online presence.  Have two email accounts.  One that you don’t care if it gets spammed, and one that is personal for you and friends or acquaintances.  Your personal one, you give out to no one, and never use it online.  The junk account you give out, but grudgingly.

There are many other methods that help prevent infections, these are just a couple.  Next month, I will try to expand upon what is here.

Dan Lhotka
About Dan Lhotka