How To Protect Your Computer From Viruses
Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to finish an important job on your laptop only to turn on your laptop and, well, it doesn't come on?
You remove and reinsert the battery but nothing works until a trip to the engineer's workshop reveals that your system crashing was as a result of the presence of a nasty little virus.
Your computer is wiped clean of the virus but in the process, you lose all your files and remember that important project you were working on? It's gone too. That is just an example of one of the effects of viruses on computers: data loss.
The havoc viruses can wreck on your computer cannot be overstated. This becomes even harder to deal with when you realize that most times, viruses are just a result of a programmer's ego trip.
The first thing to be affected is usually the computer's processing unit and this makes the computer lag and unresponsive.
This, however, pales in comparison with the fact that a considerable amount of data on your computer can be lost and don't even think about plugging an external storage device into the computer because the content of such drives will be lost too.
Examples of the most dangerous viruses are:
The Morris Worm
This virus was developed in 1998 by a college student called Robert Morris. He created a computer worm that affected around 10% of all computers linked with the internet at the time and this led to the crash of most of these computers. Fun fact: Robbie currently serves as an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The Concept Virus
This virus was a result of a shipping error by Microsoft in the early 90s. The virus was transferred via email and this single fact was what made it lethal: all computers of the period transferred files through email. This virus was the first to affect MS Word files.
This virus is also known as the Chernobyl virus and it acts annualy on the 26th of April which is the date that commemorates the occasion of the Russian Chernobyl disaster. The virus works by taking over a chip inside computers and then crashing the whole system.
This virus was in the form of a bug that stormed the internet with various I-Love-You messages. Once a user views the message, it would automatically resend itself to every contact on the user’s address book. The Filipino programmer behind this virus designed it to steal the passwords of affected users.
The Melissa Virus
The Melissa Virus has the infamous honour of being named after a stripper working in the Florida area. The virus was created by a programmer named David L. Smith and it turned out to be so deadly that the creator was sent to jail for being responsible for over $80 million in damages.
Netsky And Sasser
The Netsky and Sasser virus has a very interesting back story. It was written by a German teenager named Sven Jaschan and it was solely responsible for over 70% of the Internet's malware. Sven Jaschan was sent to prison but he escaped and what did he get? An employment opportunity by a security company in a capacity described as 'an ethical hacker'. With the above listed viruses, protecting your computer from malicious content might seem an insurmountable task but be rest assured, there are measure you can implement for your computer’s protection.
Keep Your Software Up To Date
This is not just restricted to your antivirus. You should ensure to keep all softwares on your computer updated. This is because major software developers release regular updates in a bid to correct bugs and loopholes that developers of malicious content might want to utilize. Other than this, these updates provide stronger security settings that will prevent against hacking and invasion of privacy.
Don’t Click On Links Within Emails
If you don't know the identity of the source of an email or if the provided one seems shady, you should not click on links included in such mails. According to Microsoft, almost 50% of virus infections on Windows occur due to the user clicking on unverified sources.
Use An Antivirus Software
Not all antivirus softwares have to be paid for. Some operating systems like Windows come with embedded security systems. There are some antiviruse softwares that are available for free download and they are an effective defense against virus attacks. Examples of these are Avast, Panda Cloud and Avira Antivirus System.
Back Up Your Computer
This is a fool proof defensive measure and it is not limited to protection from malicious software. It helps in the event of situations like theft and hardware breakdown. More than 29% of computer users do not backup their files and this leaves valuable data vulnerable to loss.
You can explore any of these options for backing up your files: you could use any of the cloud storage providers (ADrive, Carbonate, Dropbox) or external storage devices like USB sticks or external hard drives, or you could use an online backup service.
Use A Strong Password
Quite a large number of people use 'PASSWORD' as their password. It might sound silly but it happens to be one of the most common password among users. Other popular choices are the name of a spouse or pet, date of birth or quite surprisingly, the user's middle name. All choices mentioned above are not safe for securing your computer against external threats. A good password should be set with a mixture of symbols, letters and numbers. Another common practice is people using one password for all their accounts on the web. Do not do this. Try to use different but memorable passwords for each account you open on the internet.