Tips to avoid computer viruses and scams

By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)

Originally published by Cox Media Group on 12/3/18

The Internet is full of useful information, but as you likely know, not all of it is good. Viruses, malware, and hackers can hijack your computer, wreak havoc, or con you out of your hard-earned money. Nevertheless, with some education you can avoid most of these issues.

First off, think before you click. Typically, viruses and hackers don’t infect your computer out of the blue. Almost always you initiated the infection or hacking. Here are some tips to help avoid this: Disregard unsolicited phone calls: Microsoft and other computer companies will never call you out of the blue. Ignore any phone calls where the caller says you have computer issues and you need to do something on the computer or must pay money. These scammers usually scare you, sound convincing, and are very persistent, but don’t fall for it. If you or someone you know does fall victim, contact a computer professional as soon as you can to ensure the scammers don’t have further remote access to your computer.

Use good security protection: No antivirus or security suite can stop all the millions of viruses and other malware, so I typically suggest using a traditional antivirus plus MalwareBytes Antimalware (www.malwarebytes.com) for secondary protection.

Don’t trust all ADs: Be very careful when clicking on advertisements shown on websites or those that pop up on the screen. If you aren’t sure of a website or online store, research it before downloading or purchasing from them. Ignore any virus or performance alerts that appear to be advertisements from websites. Even consider blocking all ADs using a browser add-on like Adblock Plus (adblockplus.org).

Be cautious of excessive warnings: There are many fake antivirus and PC cleaning programs out there that once installed will bombard you with excessive alerts. Don’t purchase anything from these types of programs. There are others too that although aren’t scams, aren’t very useful and not worth the investment. If you are looking for a good cleaning program, I suggest the free edition of Glary Utilities (www.glarysoft.com) and using their 1-Click Maintenance.

Be cautious of email attachments: Never open attachments or click links from unsolicited emails, even if it appears to be from a company you do business with or someone you trust. Spammers imitate companies every day and can also take over or emulate peoples email accounts to trick you into thinking the email is legitimate. If you’re unsure about an email, go to the company’s website directly by typing in their website address or contact them by phone to verify the email.

Use Standard Windows accounts: If children use the computer, consider creating another Windows account that doesn’t have administrative privileges, called a Standard account. That way if they do download a virus or adware they’ll most likely be prompted for a Administration account password before it can be installed. This will give you a chance to verify the legitimacy before you type in the admin password.

Get a periodic checkup: It is a good idea to periodically have a computer or IT professional take a look at your computer. I suggest at least yearly, even if you don’t have any pressing issues. They can run additional malware scans, manually inspect your system for infections and security vulnerabilities, and perform a cleanup to help boost performance as well. Sometimes there are issues that aren’t apparent to you the user and not fixing them beforehand could put you into a bad situation later.

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