We all know enough to follow good hygiene and general wellness practices to avoid spreading germs…  washing our hands, coughing into our elbow, and keeping our hands away from our eyes and mouth.  Most of us working parents remember the first time dropping off our child at day care and cringing when the first thing our child did was put a toy in their mouth.  For this reason, many of us encouraged our children to use their pacifiers a little while longer to avoid germy objects making their way into their mouths.  Of course, there’s always the risk of the pacifier falling on the floor.  Does the 3second rule apply here?

Precautionary measures when it comes to personal health are second nature.  We know how people spread viruses and we take measures to prevent them.  Unfortunately, the same is not true when it comes to computer viruses.  We know they exist and that they are harmful, but do we really know how they spread?  Some ways may surprise you…

Email Attachments – Unfortunately, sometimes we receive viruses via email seemingly from people that we know and trust.  Even when emails are extremely generic sounding and come with suspicious attachments, people often open them anyway since they came from a friend or from a trusted site.  The golden rule is that if you don’t know what an attachment is, don’t open it (especially attachments with an .exe or .dll extension)!  It’s easy for a hacker to pretend to be someone you know.

Malicious Websites – Like it or not, you may become infected with viruses by doing nothing more than simply visiting a website.  To stop these malicious websites, adjust the settings on your antivirus software and firewall so that no outside connections can be made and no programs can be installed without your permission.

Networks – Through no fault of your own, you may find yourself with a virus just by being connected to a larger network where someone else on this network downloaded a virus by accident.  There isn’t much you can do to safeguard yourself from these kinds of viruses; however, have your network administrator ensure that everyone’s antivirus software is up to date so that the virus can be removed as quickly as possible.

Phishing Schemes – Identity theft is on the rise, and phishing schemes are the number one reason.  A phishing scheme is when you receive an email from a legitimate looking website claiming to be your bank or credit card company.  You freely provide your personal information without batting an eye.  Often times, when you visit these sites, viruses are automatically installed on your computer.  The smartest thing you can do is to simply call your bank or credit card company directly if you receive an email to confirm it’s legit!

Infected Software – There are a plethora of free games and programs on the Internet, but they sometimes come with a price!  If you happen to stumble upon a malicious website, you will unknowingly infect your computer if you download a free game or piece of software.  Buyer beware…only download freeware or shareware from a trusted source.

Fake Antivirus Software – There are a number of free antivirus programs on the Internet, and a surprising number of them are fake.  Only download antivirus programs from trusted sites or from websites that you know are completely legit.  Unsure?  Ask us!

Peripherals/Mobile Devices – When buying peripherals that connect with your computer, you may inadvertently infect your computer with a virus.  There really is no way to stop such an infection from happening, but by keeping your antivirus software up to date you can ensure that you have the tools ready to go if you are infected.

When it comes to viruses, preventative care is critical!  You are your No.1 defense when it comes to preventing the spread of computer viruses!

First published in our February 2017 IT Radix Resource newsletter