How can you become the victim of random and not-so-random computer malevolence? Far from an exhaustive list, let us count the ways…
1. By accepting what you see on your device’s screen without reading the prompt or understanding exactly what it is asking.
Examples of this include:
• While browsing the Internet, an Internet advertisement or window appears that says your computer is infected or that a unique plug-in is required. Without fully understanding what it is you’re getting, you accept the prompt.
• When installing or updating a program, you’re prompted (often checkboxes already checked) if it’s ok to install additional programs that you may not want or are designed to monitor your usage of the program.
2. By opening a malicious email attachment, even if it is sent unwittingly from a friend, family member or co-worker. Email addresses can be spoofed or someone with good intentions could be forwarding an infected file without knowing. A good rule of thumb is, if something comes from someone you don’t know, a “special offer” arrives unsolicited (similar to junk mail) or just generally looks weird (incorrect grammar, goofy spelling or otherwise makes your hair stand on-end), don’t bother opening it – just hit delete.
3. By not updating your device. Many of your devices’ updates are security-related. Running a program or operating system (including tablet and smart phone operating systems) and web browser plugins that are not up to date is a significant security risk and makes your system vulnerable to the myriad attacks out there.
4. By pirating software, music or movies. If anyone is using your (or his/her – ie., a teenage son or daughter) device to download software, music or movies for free (as opposed to streaming music or movies from legit sites such as iTunes Radio or Pandora, either free or paid) then you need to know that those files can contain malicious software like viruses or spyware.
5. By not running an antivirus scanner on your PC. If your computer is running a Microsoft Windows-based operating system it is highly recommended you have some form of antivirus and spyware protection on that computer to help clean it from any infections currently on the computer and to help prevent any future infections.
6. By downloading infected software. When downloading any software (programs, utilities, games, updates, demos, etc.), a good rule of thumb is to make sure you’re downloading the software from a reliable source and while installing it you’re reading the prompts about what the program is putting on your computer.
If you would like to find out more about keeping the devices (and people) you love free from harm, explore some of our recent security-related blog articles.
As always, let us know if we can provide more information on this topic – or other related topics – for you.