13 August 2012 // Related Categories: Tips
Barely a month passes when some new Internet nasty doesn't get attention in the news. You'd think that after 40 years - the first computer virus was found on the forerunner of the Internet in the 1970s - we'd have fixed the problem.
The reality is that a number of things have changed over the years. Lots more people have computers and access to the Internet than even five years ago. So, the capacity for a virus to rapidly spread is much greater now than ever before. Also, the motivation to infect computers is at a peak. When a computer is infected its information can be stolen - think of things like banking passwords and personal information - and that has value.
So, does antivirus still work?
The answer is a qualified yes. Properly maintained security software (see what we did there - we changed the name) will protect from known threats and known virus behavior. The problems come when the software creators don't anticipate how a particular piece of malware (malicious software). A senior executive from F-Secure, a reputable security software vendor, explained how this could happen.
What should you do about it?
Viruses aren't the only threat and traditional methods, like infected USB sticks, aren't the main method of transmission. Many pieces of malware are spread through infected websites. If your computer's security software isn't up to date then malware could be transferred to your computer simply by visiting a compromised website.
It might not even be the website that is specifically infected but the server, operated by a third party, that provides the advertising.
Three specific actions you can take
1 - Talk to your IT expert about what security is right for you and your business. Low cost (or free) security options can cost you in the long run, so be prepared.
2 - The most commonly infected sites are those offering free software, music or movies. A search for "free Avengers movie", for example, is likely to take you to some infected websites that have been created to lure you in with offers of free stuff in order to infect your computer.
3 - Keep your computer's operating system up to date. Both Microsoft and Apple, the two most popular computer platforms, release updates regularly. When the operating system says there's an update available, it's time for an update - especially if ANY security issues are in the notes accompanying the update.
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