Whether you are a system administrator of a large company or a casual user, viruses and worms can easily effect the computer system if the right precautionary measures aren't taken. The type of damage caused to the computer can vary from minor to severe with common issues related to slow performance, email spoofing, or total destruction of the PC. The most severe issues could lead to the hard disk being erased. Here are six basic rules to help safeguard the PC:
Strong security software
Install a top-rated security software package on the PC and make sure it is kept up-to-date. Any proven software package will increase the ability to fight-off attacks from spyware, hackers, and trojans, and includes many different technologies, such as anti-phishing, anti-spam, firewall, anti-spyware, and anti-virus. Plus, use the most advanced software that constantly runs in the background and will continue to scan files, email attachments, websites, or other programs while in use.
Internet service provider
Sign up to a reliable internet service provider (ISP) that uses strong anti-phishing and anti-spam technologies to prevent many of the viruses even reaching your PC.
Automatic Windows updates
Let the Windows OS update automatically to ensure the latest software is always installed on the PC. Windows often release patches which help to fix known vulnerabilities. If these aren't downloaded as soon as released, there is a greater risk of spyware or Trojans infecting the computer.
Avoid opening email attachments unless they are sent by someone you know and trust. Most security software programs can be set up to automatically perform a scan of attachments when received. Also, the preferred email program shouldn't be setup to automatically render graphics or open attachments.
Peer-to-peer file sharing
Use extra caution when using Peer-to-peer (P2P) technology for sharing digital media because it is easy to conceal trojans in this type of program. Similar to email only open these files when they come from a trusted source. Certain file extensions should be avoided including those that end with bat, bin, cmd, dll, lnk, scr, and vbs.
Back up regularly
Backing up the important files on the PC is certain to be beneficial in the unfortunate event of being attacked by a virus or worm. Should the PC become unresponsive or files are lost after an attack, the backup will make it easy to recover lost personal information (bank statements or tax returns), movies, music, photos, etc.