With over 1000 vicious new viruses released a month, ever increasing in diversity and sophistication, it has never been more important to protect yourself:
So, what exactly is a virus?
A virus is a malicious program intentionally designed to self-replicate, gather information and / or cause damage. Malicious threats are categorized based on their way of distribution. Viruses can cause data loss, password / identity theft and corrupt systems.
“I was just browsing the internet…” Just like viruses affecting humans, computer viruses can be caught from just about anywhere: Internet, email, external drives etc and the only way to fully avoid viruses would be to stay completely clear from the internet, emails, CDs, external hard drives… – but where would the fun be in that?!
The second best (and more practical) solution is protection – an immune system for your computer in the form of Anti-Virus software. However, you will still need to be cautious (a bit like washing your hands before dinner…) and always make sure you have several clean data backups.
Free or paid Anti-Virus versions?
Most Anti-Virus companies offer a free “home user” version as well as paid versions. And yes, sometimes, free is good enough, but often it is false economy: if you do get a virus, a straightforward virus removal takes on average 1-2 hours – costing you up to three times as much as an annual Anti-Virus subscription. Sadly, some viruses can leave your system so unstable that a complete format and re-install from a clean virus-free backup is the only solution.
Please note that running free Anti-Virus software on computers used for business purposes is not only almost certainly illegal (check your Anti-Virus terms & conditions) but also unlikely to give you the protection you need to fulfil your legal duty to protect business and customer data.
Why bigger isn’t always better!
We could all run around dressed in prophylactic suits to protect ourselves from viruses, but that could be considered a little extreme and rather unpractical. When choosing Anti-Virus software, it is not simply about who won the latest defence awards (although it certainly helps to be in the top five) but about finding the right match for your individual needs:
Some Anti-Virus software have fantastic defence systems but are bulky, slowing your computer (and ultimately you) down. Others baffle with choice and complexity: just how much time do you want to spend learning how to use it?! The perfect software needs to be tailored to your needs – and of course your budget.
Help – I think I am infected
Don’t panic, but do act immediately: viruses spread to other people (potentially making you rather unpopular amongst your friends) and often open doors to further viruses:
- disconnect your computer from networks & internet & external drives
- run in-depth scans with your installed Anti-Virus software and quarantine suspicious files
- re-run Anti-Virus scans after restarting the computer until no viruses are found
- re-connect internet & external drives and run a second opinion virus scanner (i.e. free Eset online scanner) – do not run multiple Anti-Virus software on the same computer as they are likely to conflict – there a few exceptions and online scanners are one of them
If any viruses cannot be removed properly, no clean data backup is available or it all sounds far too scary, get in touch and we will be happy to help.