Common Computer Virus Questions and Security Tips

What is a computer virus?
Think of this as a biological virus, like the flu. It keeps you from functioning and often needs something powerful to get rid of it. Computer Viruses infect your programs and files, alter the way your computer operates, or stops it from working altogether. It's estimated that the Conficker virus infected more that 10 million computers in 2009. Tens of thousands of computer viruses now operate over the Internet, and new computer viruses are created and discovered every day.
How does one find me?
    Simply being careful isn't enough. You can pick up computer viruses through normal Web activities like:
    • Sharing music, files, or photos with others.
    • Visiting an infected website.
    • Downloading free games, toolbars, media players and other system utilities.
    • Installing mainstream software applications without fully reading license agreements.
What does a computer virus do?

Your computer may be infected if you notice any of these symptoms:

  • Slow computer performance.
  • Erratic computer behavior.
  • Unexplained data loss.
  • Frequent computer crashes.
What can I do?

When you arm yourself with information and resources, you're wiser about computer security threats and less vulnerable to threat tactics. Take these steps to safeguard your PC with the best computer virus protection.

  • Use antivirus protection and a firewall.
  • Get anti-spyware software.
  • Always keep your antivirus protection and anti-spyware software up-to-date.
  • Update your operating system regularly.
  • Increase your browser security settings.
  • Avoid questionable web sites.
  • Only download software from sites you trust. Carefully evaluate free software and file-sharing applications before downloading them.

Practice safe email protocol, as well.

  • Don't open messages from unknown senders.
  • Immediately delete messages you suspect to be spam.
What else should I know about staying safe online?
  • Did you know 90% of employers use social networking sites to research job candidates? Use strong social media privacy settings.
  • Practice digital self-defense!  Remember not to post personal information online.  It is the easiest way to keep your information private.
  • Be wary of messages that implore you to act immediately or deals that offer you free gifts.
  • NEVER respond to email requests for your password!
  • Remember to never leave your digital devices unattended in a public area. (Laptops, mobile phones, tablets, etc.)
  • Online Shopping: Never buy anything online from a site that does not use SSL encryption.  Look for the lock icon and “https://” in the URL bar.
  • Back up your data! Make backup copies of your important files (pictures, work, etc.) on an external drive or other secure resource and make it a routine (once a month, quarterly, etc.)
  • Treat your mobile devices like a PC by installing anti-viruses and anti-malware applications.
  • Help minimize identity theft by shredding your bills and old documents that contain personal information
  • You can request a free annual credit report from all three agencies (Experian, Equifax, and Transuniion).
  • Clear Out Your Wallet – remove credit cards and documents that you do not use on a regular basis, such as your social security card.
  • Keep all your digital devices, PC, mobile phones, and all the applications on them up-to-date by downloading and installing the appropriate patched and updates.
  • Personal information – social security numbers, account numbers, birthdates, and passwords, keep them private!
  • Device disposal – when disposing old digital devices (mobile phones, tablets, etc.) delete personal information from the devices then do a factory reset on the units.  Best Buy usually takes items in for recycling, check with your local store for policies and procedures.
  • Copyright laws are serious and it is illegal to copy software from one computer to another unless the End User License Agreement (EULA) specifically permits the action.
  • Digital copyright laws state that it is illegal to download and/or distribute copyrighted material (e.g. movies, music, books) without the proper permissions from the author.
  • OPT OUT – you can opt out of “pre-approved” credit offers by calling 1.888.567.8688
  • Home Wireless – make sure to change the default admin password, enable WPA2 encryption, and disable SSID broadcasting.