But, on-the-other-hand, there some very real threats that have done serious damage to businesses around the globe. Your ultimate defense against an Internet full of viruses, spyware, worms, hackers and every other purveyor of malware is common sense. At the end of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's webpage that covered the malware that spread via the Valentine's Day spam emails is a list of common sense practices that everyone should adhere to.
Install antivirus software, and keep virus signatures up to date.
There are two steps to protecting your computer from viruses: (1) Buy and install an antivirus software, and (2) make sure your antivirus software is configured to automatically retrieve the most current updates from the manufacturer's website. The following links will help you decide which antivirus software is best for your PC or Apple computer.
Install the latest patches and services packs for your software.
Today's software is so complex that programmers are always fixing bugs or adding features to it. In order to obtain these fixes without having to reinstall the entire software package, programmers will issue "patches" that fix just the part of the program that needs to be updated. If there are several patches that need to be applied, they will bundle them into a "service pack". Here are instructions on how to keep your computer up to date.
Do not follow unsolicited links and do not open unsolicited email messages.
If you have email, then spam is a constant battle in your inbox. Most spam is not malicious, but there is a small percentage that is used to try and steal your identity or infect your computer with malicious software. Eliminate the spam and you will eliminate the risk of being hacked.
Use caution when visiting untrusted websites.
We are creatures of habit and surfing the Internet is no different. Just because Google directs you to a website, do not assume it is safe to enter personal information. If the site doesn't look right or you feel uncomfortable there, close your browser immediately. The following links can help you find software that will warn you about these sites.
Use caution when downloading and installing applications.
Nothing in this world is free. If you are downloading a free program, ask yourself how is this company making money from this? Sometimes you have to watch a commercial. Other times the program is only a trial version and then you have to pay for it. Other websites get you to download the "free" software but when you run it, it installs a virus (or worse) on your computer. Here are some links to help you find software to protect yourself and your computer.
Recognize and avoid email scams.
Since email is cheap, bad people use it to try and swindle or cheat people. An innocent looking or too-good-to-be-true email may turn out to be a scam that can cost you a lot of money. The best antivirus and anti-malware software will not catch everything bad. The links below will help you recognize these scams and avoid them.
Avoid social engineering and phishing attacks.
Computers can also be used by slick and quick talking individuals in order to try and get you to call a phone number or visit a website. Once they have you on the hook, they will try to get personal information from you so they can steal your identity and/or your money. The following links will help your identify and avoid these types of attacks..
Use Passwords and Make Them Strong
Many people go out of their way to voiding using passwords. If a program does require a password, they try to make it as simple as possible. If malware does infect your computer and opens a backdoor for a hacker, a strong password will protect sensitive data.
Avoid Scareware Scams
Scareware makers use unethical marketing tactics to try and get you to buy software that you actually don’t need. Their most popular scams are advertisements on websites that looks like the website is telling you that you are infected with a virus and you can buy (for an outrageous amount) antivirus software to remove it. There are plenty of free antivirus software packages out there. Here are three of the most popular:
Malware is nothing new. But, don't wait until it's too late to start protecting yourself and your business. Do it today! Talk to your employees about using common sense when they use your computers. A small amount of time spent today will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars tomorrow. Not to mention the headaches you will avoid.