Malware refers to all the kinds of software that you don’t want on your computer. This extends well beyond just viruses to things like spyware that can steel your private and personal details and adware which can cause pop ups to spring up on your screen. On top of this of course it applies to viruses as well which we all know can cause any amount of damage to our computer.
This malware of course is malicious and was created with the intention of either helping someone to further their goals of self promotion, or literally just to frustrate you (there are people out there with this much time on their hands and all we can do is feel sorry for them).
Regardless of the motive however, unanimously none of us wants to have malware on our system, and prevention is better than cure – so how do you go about avoiding it?
Where Does Malware Come From?
Malicious software can come from a number of different sources and there are many scenarios where you might unintentionally download something that can harm or slow down your computer. Identifying these and then avoiding them is of course the best way to keep your PC running smoothly.
One such situation in which malware is a common problem is when surfing the web. Various websites can infect your computer with unwanted files, and these are generally sites that are providing already ‘dubious’ content. If the site you are viewing is sharing illegal downloads then for instance, or on a very alternative subject, then you increase your chances of malware.
The most obvious way to avoid this issue is of course to stick to respectable sites that you know won’t be carrying harmful files. At the same time, by using a good browser such as Firefox you can avoid certain dangerous files, while plugins can help further this by scanning pages for potential harm.
Another source of malware is file sharing. File sharing means things like torrents or P2P software that allows you to download files directly from other people’s computers. This is often used to illegally obtain films and games, but these can also provide a ‘Trojan horse’ for malware. If you want to avoid falling victim to this ruse, one option is of course to simply avoid using file sharing in the first place. Meanwhile you should be careful to read reviews of torrents before you start to download them, and you should run any files you do download through a virus checker first.
Malware can also come in e-mails, and this is one of the ways that some malicious files can proliferate – by hacking your e-mail then messaging other people. Never open attachments such as .exe’s unless you are absolutely certain you know what they are and have first spoken to the person who sent it. Likewise you should still be sure to run the files through virus checkers.
More Defensive Measures
Having a good virus checker/anti spyware software is a good way to help yourself from spyware and adware. You should also be sure to use this to run regular checks and keep your computer clean in other ways too with registry checks and by deleting unwanted files and installing updates. A little ‘spring cleaning’ can go a long way to help you avoid all sorts of unwanted software.
James Delurno is a computer security expert and writes about how to protect computers against viruses and other unwanted softwares. He works for a leading registry cleaner software company. This article was written by a guest author. Would you like to write for us?