In this article we’re going to be discussing how computer viruses spread from one system to another, in the majority of situations. We’re also going to discuss steps and prevention measures that you can take with your equipment to avoid virus infections.
Malicious Email Messages, With or Without Embedded Website Links
Computer users have been trying to avoid malicious email messages for many years. But as time has progressed, the appearance of messages sent from dangerous sources have progressed as well. The messages may appear to be sent from legitimate sources such as, your credit card company, your bank, the IRS, Fed-Ex, UPS, or countless other seemingly legitimate sources. And the message may contain an attachment, or embedded links that will lead to phishing or other malicious sites. Depending on how your computer is configured, a great deal of the time questionable attachments are easy to spot. It’s just a matter of checking the attachments three letter extension. Without actually opening or executing any files that are contained in the attachment. Or, instead of double clicking on the attachment, you could simply download the attachment, and then thoroughly check it with your currently installed antivirus utility. But keep in mind that if it’s a new type of virus, your antivirus utility may not detect it as being malicious. And for situation such as this, we suggest sand boxing the file. And this can be accomplished with a utility such as sandboxie. What sandboxie does is it completely segregates any file that you select into a Sand boxed environment. There by shielding your system from the effects of that particular file if it’s malicious or otherwise.
Next, if the malicious email message contains links to other sites, a simple way to check on the links without actually clicking on them would be to simply hover your mouse pointer over them. And then look down at the bottom of your web browser. Or you could copy and paste the link text into a notepad text file. And then you would have a better understanding of where the link leads. If the link for example, is supposedly from the IRS, it should point to something such as IRS.gov. But, on the other hand if the link points someplace else, or has been shortened, which means that it’s been cut down by a link shortening service, following the link should be avoided at all costs. The next thing in line, if you have already followed the link within your email message, and you question its legitimacy, would be to check the address of the site that you were redirected to. For example if it belongs to a bank, check the address bar in your web browser at the top and make sure that it points to the valid web address of your bank or whatever the institution is that it represents. If it has an exceptionally long address, or it does not look valid specifically at the beginning of the address, you should immediately navigate away from the site. Another way to check would be to simply check for an SSL certificate and who it was issued to as well. You can do that in the address bar as well. Just focus in the left corner of the address and it should indicate if the website has an SSL certificate and who it was issued by and who it was issued to as well.
Questionable Websites And Phishing Schemes
With questionable websites, you should handle them the same way you would handle a malicious email message with embedded links. Focus your attention in the top left corner of the address bar of your web browser once the site opens. And make sure that the site has a valid web address. And keep in mind that it does not matter how legitimate the website looks that you are redirected to. Always keep in mind that it may be just another phishing site intent on extracting your sensitive account usernames and passwords.
Wired and Wireless Computer Networks
No matter what type of network that you’re connected to, there is always the possibility of malicious activity being present on that particular network. And it doesn’t matter what type of network that it may be, public or private. There is always the possibility of malicious worm and/or virus activity on the network. And that activity may originate from an infected computer, smartphone, digital video recorder, router, etc. If such a device is infected, the virus may try to infect your system. And the outcome could be the fact that you system would become part of a botnet and be utilized to attack other systems online. The virus may encrypt the personal files stored on your computer and hold them for ransom. Or it may be programmed with some other sinister agenda. The best countermeasure for such activity would be to make sure that you have a reputable antivirus utility and also software firewall installed on your device. And that goes for both your computers, tablets and also smartphones. Plus, also make sure that your antivirus is kept up to date as well. Because countless new viruses are created on a daily basis.
Infected Software Applications and Packages
Malicious software maybe downloaded and or acquired from many different sources. But, in almost all of the cases it’s downloaded from either a torrent site, a warez site, or some other site that is masquerading as a legitimate download location for trustworthy software. Another fact to keep in mind is, nationally-known, ordinarily trustworthy sites may also contain software that has been modified to contain adware and other unwanted software as well. So, with that in mind, always choose the custom install option when you’re installing new software packages on your system. Pay special attention when the software installer offers options that are recommended. Because a great deal of the time the recommended install may change your web browsers homepage settings, default search provider, or other unwanted computer system changes.
Now, if you’re downloading software for torrent sites or warez sites, thoroughly check software with a reputable antivirus utility, also avoid opening the software unless it’s in a sand boxed environment. Also, as a Fail-Safe we suggest that you create a complete backup system image of your computer, just in case something slips by and your system gets infected anyway. And for creating complete system images we suggest that you utilize EaseUS Todo Backup. It’s quite inexpensive, easy to use, and also quite dependable.
Infected USB Drives And External Media
Infected USB drives and other external media are of great concern in reference to the circulation of computer viruses. Because all it takes is to infect a single drive or disk with a virus, and from there countless other systems could be infected that the drives and/or media are connected to and open on. To avoid such a situation, you should scan all USB flash drives before opening them on your computer system. And the easiest way to think about a foreign USB flash drive, is to simply treat them as if they’s silverware that have been circulating around town and you don’t know who has been eating with them. And without knowing, would you use that silverware for yourself without thoroughly washing it first?
Fake Antivirus Software
There are countless software companies that claim to offer virus removal utilities. Some of them are legitimate such as Symantec, Kaspersky, Bitdefender and many others. But there are also many others that have another agenda in mind. And that agenda may be to simply fool you into purchasing a license for their software. Even though the software doesn’t function the way it has been advertised. Or the software may actually function a lot like a virus in itself. And make it seriously difficult for you to remove the questionable antivirus utility once it has been installed.
The best way to handle such a situation is to simply stick with the software companies that you know that you can trust. Such as those that we listed in the above paragraph.