Every day, hackers develop an average of 74,000 new malicious programs that can steal data, corrupt databases and hard drives and cause major hardships for consumers and businesses that rely on computers. Around 30 percent of all American households are affected by malware every year, and the costs of computer viruses, trojans, spyware, phishing and other online threats to Americans is over $4.5 billion annually. If you want to avoid becoming the victim of a malware attack, there are some things that you must do to protect yourself.
1. Don’t Skip Updates. Windows, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems are frequently modified to address vulnerabilities and reduce exposure to malicious attacks. When improvements are made, they are released as updates that must be installed on your computer. Skipping updates can leave you unprotected from the latest online threats and make you far more susceptible to viruses, spyware and other harmful programs.
2. Be Smart About Online Usage. Often times, security problems arise when individuals aren’t careful to protect their identities online. This makes it important that you use good judgment when creating passwords and log-in names for online accounts. Never use the same password twice and change your passwords frequently to ensure your safety. Whenever possible, use enhanced password protection, such as two-step verification to further reduce the likelihood of your sensitive information being hacked.
3. Power Down. When you’re not using your computer, turn if off. Hackers can’t infiltrate a system that isn’t online, so reduce the window of opportunity by only having you computer on when you’re using it. If slow start-ups make you hesitant to power down, purchase a PC or Mac optimization program to speed up your computer. You can often find discounts on these software programs to make them more affordable to purchase.
4. Open and Download Wisely. Malicious software is often unknowingly invited onto a computer system by the user, making it very important that you use caution about what you click on. Never open email attachments from unknown sources and verify the authenticity of emails from sources that you think you recognize before opening attachments. Be sure that you can trust a website before you download any files from it to avoid contracting viruses and other types of malicious software. Some antivirus software programs, including products from Mcafee, BullGuard and Symantec, will scan attachments before saving them and provide information about the trustworthiness of websites to help you open and download wisely.
5. Invest in Security Software. All computers require antivirus protection, regardless of their operating system, so don’t be fooled into thinking you’re safe due to the type of computer that you use. Getting complete protection doesn’t have to be expensive either. Top antivirus software products like Mcafee, Bitdefender, AVG, Avast, Kaspersky and TrendMicro are often available for reduced prices when you have valid promo codes or coupons. These types of discounts can help you save on both your initial purchase of the software and on your annual subscription to make protection as affordable as possible.