How to Lower Your Risk of Getting Infected With a Computer Virus

by Adeel Younas
Published: Last Updated on

If you’ve owned a PC for more than a couple of years, chances are that you’ve probably already had an experience or two with computer viruses. More often than not, having a virus on your PC is a nasty thing and something that should be taken care of as soon as possible. Viruses disguise themselves as ordinary executable files (files with the .exe extension), and once they’re run they quickly replicate themselves and can even infect other executable files, preventing them from functioning normally.

How to Prevent Computer Virus Infection

A virus can harm your PC in a variety of ways; most often they just slow your machine down considerably, although some of them can actually do some serious damage. Bottom line is that viruses are definitely not something to be ignored, and fortunately, there is a number of ways that you can protect yourself from them.

Keep Up With Updates

One of the most common reasons for a security breach is outdated software. If you use Windows, you’ve probably already noticed that your operating system keeps updating itself once every few days, at the least. This is because important security patches are constantly getting released, in order to increase the overall security of your system. Hackers are becoming very proficient at bypassing online security protocols, so in order to keep up with them you must constantly accept updates from your operating system and your browser.

Failing to do so will get your PC infected sooner or later, which will only complicate matters further for you. It’s always better to prevent an infection than to try treating it, and potentially losing some important files or data because of it.

Get Anti-Virus Software

The hands-down easiest way to attain some additional protection for your PC is to set yourself up with a good anti-virus program. There is a lot of fantastic anti-virus software out there (a lot of it is absolutely free) that can both protect your PC from potential infections, as well as scan and remove existing ones from your machine. If you don’t already have a dedicated anti-virus on your computer, you should definitely consider getting one. Taking a look at a top antivirus list for Windows can give you some ideas about which one to choose and which one is the best for your particular needs.

Browse Carefully

A lot of times, a virus infection happens because people don’t care to double-check what they’re downloading onto their PC. The Internet is full of scams and adware that presents itself as regular software, and more often than not these scams can be easily detected if you’re careful enough. Even anti-virus software can be fake, which is why you should always look for recommendations from real people when downloading an anti-virus. If you’re unfortunate enough to stumble upon a fake anti-virus program, it’ll look as if it’s functioning normally just like any other anti-virus; but in reality, it’ll just infect your PC further and force it to load ads, most of the time.

Since viruses are most often .exe files, if you’re offered to download a .exe file that you didn’t expect to be a .exe, most likely you’re looking at a virus. The moment that you download and run it, your PC will become infected. Avoid large, flashing download buttons and ad banners that try to lead you to a third-party download. Whenever you’re suspicious about a piece of software, google it first to see if it’s legit or just another scam. Just by taking some of these precautions, you can significantly decrease or even utterly eliminate the risk of an infection.

Consider a Hardware Firewall

If you’re really concerned about your security, or if you want to protect several computers in your network, you might want to think about getting a hardware firewall. Your operating system most likely comes with a built-in firewall, but most of the time it isn’t nearly powerful enough to protect you from any potential threat.

A dedicated hardware firewall can be a bit more expensive, but it’ll also offer you a much higher level of security. Most routers nowadays also come with some kind of built-in low-end hardware firewall, but their quality is questionable at best these days.

Don’t Open E-mail from Strangers

Be really careful about this. If you get an attachment in your e-mail from a person you don’t know, it’s a virus. One hundred percent. If you open your spam folder, chances are that you’ll see a whole mess of these e-mails, just waiting to be opened so they can wreak havoc on your PC. Since spam filters are really good nowadays, most of these e-mails don’t even reach your inbox, so some people don’t even know about them, although they were a really big problem when the Internet first became as widespread as it is today. If by any chance one of these e-mails happens to get through your spam filter, just move it back there or delete it altogether.

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