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How to Protect Yourself from Viruses and Spyware

# Filed on Jun 23, 2008 by AnthonyDiSante reply

The number one best way to protect yourself against viruses, spyware, and other malware is to throw away your Windows PC and buy a Mac.  Malware is virtually unheard-of on Mac computers, partly because there are fewer Macs than Windows PCs, but also because the Mac is built on an operating system where security is a primary concern, as opposed to Windows where security has been an afterthought.  And nowadays you can have a Mac and also run Windows on it, either by dual-booting or via virtualization, so you can still use Windows whenever you need to.

The second best way to protect yourself from malware is to stop using Internet Explorer, and use Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox instead.  That’s because today, a huge percentage of malware infections occur through bugs in Internet Explorer.  Microsoft eventually patches these holes, but inevitably there’s a delay between the discovery of the bug and the distribution of the fix, which means there’s a period of time where you’re exposed.  The safest thing to do is to avoid IE entirely and just use Chrome or Firefox.

What if you’re already infected with some nasty virus/spyware/malware?  First, if you don’t already have an antivirus program installed, then install one ASAP, such an Microsoft Security Essentials, Norton, or McAfee.  Then make sure it’s fully up to date -- it will download new virus signatures daily, because new viruses are released daily.  Next install Windows Defender.  An AV program and Windows Defender together will catch and remove a lot of stuff, but some things will slip through.  For those, you can try installing Spybot Search & Destroy, or, another program that I discovered today while disinfecting a family member’s PC, SuperAntiSpyware.

But even with all of those programs installed, it’s still possible to get infected.  Sometimes running a full system scan with each program will fix the problem, but some malware gets so deep into the system that the only solution is to format your hard drive and reinstall Windows from scratch.

Indeed, even if you can successfully remove the malware from your system, you can never be fully certain that part of it isn’t left hiding somewhere, just waiting to come to life at a later date -- or still running, silently & invisibly, and sending your personal information out to some bad guys somewhere on the net.  So if you really want to be safe, you might consider formatting & reinstalling anytime you get a malware infection.  Yes that’s a hassle, but would you really feel safe doing things like online banking or shopping on a system that had been compromised in the past?  I know I wouldn’t.

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