The Internet is teeming with a great amount of malicious software: viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware, all capable of severely damaging your computer if left unchecked.
To protect your system, you will have to choose the right antivirus program from a long list of available tools.
Protect Computer from Internet Threats
This article describes your options and will help you take the necessary steps in order to keep your computer safe from these kinds of threats.
Know what sort of protection you need
In order to choose the right security solution, you need to know what you should be looking for.
Your defenses should consist of three components: a firewall (which keeps malicious software from reaching your computer over the Internet), an anti-spyware program (which protects against software trying to gather your information without your knowledge), and the actual antivirus program (which protects against viruses).
Most antivirus companies offer the central product as a stand-alone, but also a more comprehensive solution in the form of a security suite, which can also include a firewall, spam filtering software, and various anti-spyware and anti-malware tools.
Depending on your needs and budget, you should consider whether a free antivirus is enough, or you should go for a paid premium program.
There are plenty of free programs which are simply more basic versions of the paid software, so they might be enough for the average user.
However, they don’t usually come with any kind of technical support, and may not include important features or tools, as well as updating capabilities.
It’s also important to know what security features your computer has installed by default. Windows 7 and Mac OS X, for example, have built-in firewalls, which have to be enabled if you want them to be of any use to you.
Additionally, web browsers have their own security features you can take advantage of. Before downloading or buying an antivirus, make sure it works well with the tools you already have available.
Over the years, Mac users haven’t had to deal with as many viruses as their Windows-running counterparts. Many of them, consequently, haven’t felt the need to install any kind of antivirus software.
This period of relative security might be coming to an end however, and experts have started recommending Mac users get some sort of malware protection program and also turn on the OS X Firewall.
It’s also important to know about fake security warning called scareware, legit-looking notices which claim your computer has a virus and asks you to click on them and download some software to fix the issue.
Whenever you think your computer has been infected, run a scan using an antivirus program you trust. Notices regarding viruses which pop up in your browser or in emails should be ignored.
How to choose an antivirus software
Here are a few things you will want to consider before purchasing an antivirus software:
- Research reviews online: Look for independent reviews of antivirus software released within the past year. A good place to start is by going to trustworthy sites like CNET and TopTenReviews. You should compare multiple reviews to see which programs are recommended the most.
- Look for key features: There are a few key features any antivirus program should have: real-time protection; regular, automatic updates; an heuristic analysis component; an on-demand scanner which can used any time you think your computer has been infected.
- Check ease of use: Find out, using reviews, screenshots, and installation guides, how easy the software is to use. Choose one according to your level of skill with computers.
- Review technical support: You should verify in advance what support options the product you are considering has. These should include email and a toll-free help line.
- Try a demo version first: In order to get a sense of how the program works, download a free trial version first and test it out.
How to use antivirus software
One of the most important things to consider is that the Internet is constantly being flooded with new viruses, so it’s crucial your antivirus software is always up-to-date. Follow these guidelines to unsure you’re using your antivirus program as effectively as possible:
- Keep the automatic update feature turned on at all times.
- Though you might be tempted to instinctively ignore them, pay attention to your renewal notices. After your subscription expires, you will no longer receive updates.
- Sometimes when installing certain programs of updates, you will need to disable your antivirus software. Don’t forget to re-enable it as soon as the task is done.
- While the software should be pretty clear in telling you exactly what to do at all times, if you find the instructions difficult to understand don’t be afraid to contact technical support.
- If, for whatever reason, you are no longer satisfied with your antivirus software, make sure to uninstall it before installing something new in its place.
Other safety practices to fix slow computer and stay safe
- Restart your computer regularly: Some people prefer to leave their computer on all the time (because waiting a couple of minutes for it to start is apparently too much). Not only is this energy inefficient, it can also be bad for the computer in other ways. Make sure to restart your computer regularly, thus giving it time to perform regular diagnostic checks and fix various minor issues before they turn into bigger problems.
- Install software updates: Many of us have made a habit out of ignoring prompts to perform software updates, however if you want your computer to be in the best shape possible, download and install these updates as soon as you are asked to.
- Backup your computer: Even with the best antivirus, you can never be completely safe from malicious software. That’s why it’s really important to back up your files, especially the really important ones, on an external source. This way, even if your data becomes compromised in any way, you still have copies of it stored somewhere safe.
You can either backup you files on an external hard drive, or you can use an online service. Each option has its own strengths and weaknesses, so consider them carefully before choosing one.