If you've made it this far into the Internet Age without experiencing the heart-stopping anguish that goes along with having a computer virus, well, consider yourself lucky. Every day, it seems, new ways of stealing your identity, swiping your credit card information, or crashing your system are being invented. And contrary to popular belief, new research shows that Mac users aren't as safe as they thought they were.
Luckily, there are several ways you can protect yourself from the looming threats of spyware, malware, viruses, and worms. Follow the tips below!
Don't accept without reading
One of the most common ways to get infected with a virus is when a user blindly follows the prompts given to them, without reading fully. Learn to recognize the difference between your installed security software and internet ads pretending to be helpful update reminders.
Don't open emails you weren't expecting to get
Email attachments can contain malicious code that, when opened, infects your computer. Even if the email is from people you trust, be cautious when opening links and attachments. Sometimes malicious software distributors maraud as people you know and love.
Remember to update often
Security programs are constantly upgrading in order to be better equipped to tackle constantly evolving threats. Many operating system updates, too, are concerned with strengthening security. Make sure you update your system often, or you'll be left in the Stone Age while viruses are attacking your system with laser guns!
Illegal downloading has its risks
When torrenting or illegally downloading music, movies, etc. (not that we haven't all done this at one point or another...), be aware the risks involved. Even files that seem legitimate can contain viruses or malicious code in addition to what you thought you were downloading.
Make sure you're protected with the right software
PCs especially should be running top-of-the-line antivirus software AND spyware protection. These are sometimes combined into one catch-all program, but it's best to have two separate programs. Paid services, rather than free ones, will likely give you better protection.
Disable auto-run & email attachment previews
These features run downloaded software automatically, or load email attachments when you simply open the message (even if you haven't clicked on the attachment). They're both optional, and can be turned off at any time. It's a good idea to do so, giving you more control over what programs your computer runs and downloads.