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How to Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks – 8 Tips

It is a costly procedure to rid your computer of malware once it has invaded. Learn how to protect your computer from malicious attacks and about potential threats, as well as the steps you can take to prevent such “infections.”

There are many types of malware, malicious software designed to disrupt the everyday use of your computer. Some malware types are simply nuisances to the one sitting behind the keyboard, while others can actually harm or destroy the computer itself. Another threat posed by malware is the invasion of your privacy, and it has the potential to cause you considerable personal and/or financial harm.

Let's Understand Malware Types

Most malware types get onto your computer via web browsing, instant messaging, or peer-to-peer file sharing. Malware is a self-inflicted injury. You do it to yourself by using the Internet. Many people use the following terms interchangeably, but there are definite differences in the types of infections you can “catch” on your computer.

There are many different types of malware available, with some more harmful than others, but how to protect your computer from malicious attacks? Some new malware samples are produced every day, and each strain has its own individual way of infecting and damaging computers.
The most common types of malware are:

Spyware Attacks

How to Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks
Spyware – Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks

Spyware is a program that has been downloaded, usually unbeknownst to you, because it can be piggy-backed with some other type of the desired program, usually freeware or shareware. Once this spyware is secretly installed on your computer, it can do such things as change computer settings, track viewed websites, collect passwords, history, and private information, and even record your keystrokes. This information is then sent back to the program’s originator or a third party. Spyware is extremely difficult to eradicate.

What is Adware?

A particularly annoying type of spyware is adware, which generates a tremendous amount of advertising in pop-up advertisements or banners scrolling across your screen. This program can track your activities and cause similar ads to pop up, hoping to interest you in related products. It can be quite intrusive and distracting but hardly as malicious as other types of spyware.

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Harmful Trojan

A Trojan is a malware type that disguises itself as legitimate software that serves a malicious purpose.  A Trojan may claim to be a free update, game, or antivirus program, tricking the user into installing it onto their device. Once installed, the Trojan works quietly in the background to steal sensitive data, install a backdoor or take other harmful actions.

Computer Viruses

When downloaded, a computer virus also rides on other programs' coat-tails and can reproduce and run when the host program is executed. It can infect and corrupt files and sometimes cause hard drives to ‘crash’ depending on its design. A virus can infect other computers by sending email and/or file exchanges.

Worms Attack

A worm is a self-contained program that can replicate itself and uses a network to infect other systems on your computer. Depending on the worm's design, it can secretly send documents through email and even delete necessary files. Unlike a virus that causes harm to the computer and its files, a worm causes damage to other computers on the network and consumes bandwidth, thus slowing down your environment.

Online Spam

Spam is electronic junk mail, usually unsolicited. It uses up tremendous amounts of network bandwidth. Spam is generally trying to sell you some product or service and is sent to generated mailing lists and newsgroups. Though it cannot cause you or your computer much harm, it is highly annoying and time-consuming to delete. It is estimated that more than 60% of all email on the internet is spam.

What are the Signs of a Malware Attack?

How to Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks
Be Careful – Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks

Slow Computer. If your computer is far too slow, then this signifies that your computer is infected with malware. This is because malware installs itself on your computer and runs programs in the background causing significant slowdowns and headaches.

Unwanted Pop-Ups. One of the most obvious signs that your network is under attack is pop-up windows. One mouse click can lead to a dozen or more floating pop-ups, mouse-over ads, or mass attack ads.

It may be Browser Hijacking. If you fire up your browser and notice a new homepage, toolbars, or extensions, you might be under attack.

Disabled Maintenance or Anti Virus Programs. When Malware infects your computer, it will often protect itself by disabling programs that would typically detect and remove it. So if you notice that security programs fail to work, that could signal a malicious attack.

1. Only Use Trusted Antivirus and Malware Software

How to Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks
Antivirus Protection – Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks

Some people still use a computer, smartphone, or tablet without antivirus and malware detection software, so how to protect your computer from malicious attacks?

Antivirus software like Norton, Kaspersky, Comodo, AVG, Avast, and Webroot may cost you just a bit more than self-described “free antivirus” applications. Yet, all have a longstanding tradition for effective and recognizing security threats.

There are free antivirus software downloads on the web, but do you want to trust your computer with just any type of software? Furthermore, many totally free antivirus programs are themselves Potentially Unwanted Programs (“PUPs“) and come installed with some spyware.

2. Always Keep Anti-Virus Software Up to Date

Visiting Geeks technicians strongly urge all owners to install an antivirus software program to protect their computers from malicious attacks. We also recommend at least one anti-spyware program, if not more than one. You should automatically set both programs to scan regularly depending on Internet usage.

These programs can find and remove unwanted “infections” and prevent future installations. However, it isn’t enough to install these programs and think yourself entirely protected after that because new spyware and viruses are constantly being designed. You must update your anti-spyware and antivirus programs daily to pick up on these latest threats to protect your computer from malicious attacks.

3. Don't Open Suspicious-Looking E-mails

Never open suspicious-looking emails or attachments because most viruses are replicated via email. If it looks suspicious, delete it immediately to protect your computer from malicious attacks.

4. Always Backup Your Data

How to Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks
Data Backup – Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks

The only foolproof way to protect your data from being lost forever is by backing it up to a trusted and secure online backup provider. Backing up your data with secure software will ensure your data is never actually lost. Going the extra mile and securing it with a trusted provider gives you even more security and peace of mind knowing the data is in good hands. If something does happen to your laptop or computer, you can still retrieve all of your information without hassle and headache.

5. Set Up a Firewall

Small business owners tend to think that because they are “just a small business,” no one would waste time trying to hack into their network.

The simple fact is that there are thousands of individuals out there who think it’s fun to disable your computer just because they can.

How to Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks

These individuals can strike randomly by searching the Internet for open, unprotected ports. As soon as they find one, they will delete files or download huge files that cannot be deleted, shutting down your hard drive.

If you cannot delete these malicious programs, you’ll have to re-format the entire hard drive causing you to lose every piece of information you’ve ever owned unless you were backing up your files properly.

6. Keep Your System, Apps, and Browser Up-to-Date

Always install new updates to your operating systems. Most updates include security fixes that prevent hackers from accessing and exploiting your data. The same goes for apps. Be sure to review your browser security settings in addition to installing all-new updates.

FOR EXAMPLE, you can use your browser to prevent websites from tracking your movements, which increases your online privacy.

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7. Remove Unnecessary Software and Apps

Every computer comes bundled with miscellaneous software and apps you may never use. It will improve computer security to remove those programs. This computer security tactic cuts down on a hacker’s points of attack.

8. Use Strong Passwords and Change Periodically

How to Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks
Use Strong Passwords – Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks

Creating a strong computer password is perhaps the easiest thing to do to enhance your system's security. A strong password should also be between 8-15 characters long.

Passwords should never be written down and stored near or under your device.

How to Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks

Updating your computer password periodically will help in preventing brute-force password cracks. The stronger a user’s password is, the harder it is for a hacker to crack it potentially. It is generally good to update your passwords about every 60 days.

FAQs About Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks

  1. Does firewall protect against hackers?

    Firewalls block all unauthorized connections to your computer (including those of hackers who are trying to steal your data) and even let you select which programs can access the internet so that you're never connected unknowingly.

  2. Is VPN better than firewall?

    Unlike a firewall, a VPN doesn't allow you to establish data packet and network port restrictions on your computer. While some VPNs might feature a Killswitch that cuts Internet access if the VPN connection fails. The firewall will not help you bypass geo-restrictions online.

  3. What is the best free antivirus?

    AVG AntiVirus Free offers the same excellent antivirus protection engine as Avast Free Antivirus, with helpful bonus features. You can still try Avira if it suits your needs to protect your computer from malicious attacks.

Final Words on Protect Your Computer From Malicious Attacks

New threats are emerging all the time, so you should always download up-to-date definitions from your software provider. While nothing is a guarantee against infection, antivirus and anti-spyware software can go a long way towards helping protect your computer from malicious attacks.

Though no one program can be relied on to keep your computer completely clear of spyware and viruses, there are many reputable anti-spyware and antivirus programs available on today’s market.

It is much easier to prevent your computer from being infected with this malware mentioned above than it is to try to get rid of them, so browse the internet wisely. To clean a computer of unwanted spyware and viruses can be a costly and lengthy process. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so the saying goes.

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