Computer viruses range from inconvenient to downright dangerous. While some simply install adware on your computer, and hope you click on a dizzying array of advertising pop-ups, others can steal your personal banking information or seize control of your computer.
Anti-virus software offers some protection, but it's certainly not foolproof. The likes FedEx, Nissan, and the U.K's National Health Service all had anti-virus software, yet were still infected by Wannacry.
The following is a list of 8 proven ways, that had you done, would have prevented many of the world's most infamous viruses from infecting your computer - in the least they would have mitigated their effects:
1. Only use registered software
In the short term you may save a few hundred dollars from downloading a pirated copy of Microsoft Windows or Office. However, if your program is not registered, you won’t get the latest security patch updates necessary to keep new viruses from infecting your computer.
2. Update your software
Most software updates are patches for security weaknesses found after you've received your software. However, many programs need your permission to update your software with their latest security patches. Ideally adjust your computer settings to automatically allow software updates, and they will be done for you online without you even knowing.
3. Install Antivirus / Anti-Malware software
Install a reputable antivirus program on your computer and make sure it runs automatically. The best antivirus software regularly update themselves to block the latest online threats – make sure to keep it updated.
4. Enable pop-up blockers from your web browser
Many viruses originate from seemingly innocent pop-up advertisements. Your Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Safari web browser can block pop-up ads.Not only will it keep you safer, it will get rid of those pesky, disruptive advertisements!
5. Avoid suspicious emails, messages, or texts
Many of the most dangerous viruses are enabled when you click on a link or attachment in an email. If an email seems suspicious ignore it or delete it. If it seems remotely believable, go to the website yourself by typing the URL into your browser (do not click on the link or open the attachment in the email) and log into your account, or call the organization.
6. Safely leave pop-ups or sites you were redirected to involuntarily
If you were brought to a site involuntarily or a pop-up appears, don’t click on any part of it – even if it has a button labeled “cancel” or “close”, or an X box to close the site.
What to do then? To safely close the site or pop-up box, go to your task bar (usually at the bottom of your screen) and place your cursor over the icon of the website, right click on it and select close. If that does not work, go to Windows Task Manager by pressing CTRL, ALT and DEL simultaneously. Click the Applications tab and select the site or pop-up window from the list and close it.
7. Back-up your data regularly
If you’re data is backed-up daily, ransom-ware is far less effective. If you someone threatens to wipe out your data if you don't give them $500, you can safely ignore the threat, and restore your computer to an earlier back-up from the day before.
8. Put your data in the cloud
While you may find it uncomfortable to have your files in the cloud, chances are companies like Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Drop Box and IDrive have far better security than you do. Moreover, if your computer does get frozen, disabled or held for ransom, your data will be stored elsewhere, rendering the threat far less effective. You can host your pictures, videos, documents, emails and files in the cloud.