10 Easy Ways to Minimize Spyware and Viruses

With the pervasiveness of viruses and un-seen spyware, many of us may be infected and not even know it. The problem is rampant, getting worse and can be very expensive for companies to fix.

According to Erik Eckel’s article on TechRepublic, annual worldwide malware repair expenses have increased from $3 billion to $13 billion within the last decade and Google reports one in every 10 websites has some sort of what they call “drive-by” malware on the sites.  As recently as 2009, even some big-name sites like Coldwell Banker.com, Variety.com and Tennis.com potentially exposed visitors to the Gumblar exploit, according to the Windows Secrets e-newsletter.

Here are 10 tips from Eckel to distribute to your employees for cost-savings and increased efficiency:

Make sure you have a quality anti-virus software

Eckel notes most systems arrive with some sort of free anti-virus program but they aren’t sufficient, he says. The “Pro” version (or paid version) updates more frequently, searches for a wider variety of threats, such as rootkits (which can allow access to your entire system), and can be customized for specific types of scans.

Make sure you install a real-time anti-spyware program

Free anti-virus programs do not typically protect against spyware, and vice versa. Free spyware programs don’t typically protect against Trojans, adware and other spyware infections and are not typically in real time. Also, paid versions often can repair computers that already have infections.

Update your applications frequently

Because of the incredible propagation of these threats, keeping licenses updated and installing updates is very important to keep your machine protected. Social media sites are especially efficient at spreading these issues so as their use has grown, so have the threats.

Perform a full daily scan every day

Again, because these viruses and spyware programs move so fast, keeping the systems updated and your hard drive scrubbed will help keep you safe.

Disable any programs that autorun

Many viruses run automatically when an external drive is added to the system such as an external hard drive or thumb drive.  If you are running Microsoft Windows, you can search on how to do this in their help section.

Disable Outlook’s preview image window

Without opening an infected message, you can still get a virus through a preview window. Open Tools/Trust Center or settings and click the option that disables pictures from automatically being downloaded.

Always scan any attachments or email links

It might seem like a pain to scan every message you get, but even emails from co-workers or friends can contain a freeloading threat. It takes an extra bit of time but could save you a lot of headache.

Be smart when you are on the internet

Make sure you have your browser plug-ins enabled to scan and protect any webpages. This can prevent phishing attacks  and infections. Leave plug-ins and pop-up blockers enabled even if it seems like pain. It really could save you a lot of trouble later. Try to avoid hotlinks if possible; instead type in the URL yourself to make sure you go where you intend to.

Use a hardware-based firewall

There is often a debate among IT professionals whether to use a software-based firewall or a hardware-based firewall. Eckel says the software-based firewall can often cause network issues, limit connectability to printers and other issues. Because of this, often the firewall is simply disabled, leaving your entire system at risk.

 Instead, install a hardware-based firewall to help protect against malicious network traffic, viruses, worms and other issues.

Protect against DNS or DoD attacks

This happens when an infection can change the numeric code a URL is translated into when you are on the internet. Many times, you have no idea it’s happening. An IT professional can help prevent this or you can use a program like OpenDNS to help prevent this.

For more useful information about this, please check out www.techrepublic.com.