Tips to protect yourself against malware infection:
Malware (mal=malicious, ware=software)
Malware is malicious software engineered to work for its makers, and not for the computer user. Malware might steal your identity, install unwanted programs, or encrypt and hold your digital files for ransom. As a term, “malware” covers all sorts of malicious software, including Trojans, spyware, adware, ransomware, and viruses. Malware is now often delivered by exploiting flaws (“exploits”) in legitimate programs.
Keep Windows current with all security updates from Microsoft which will patch many of the security holes through which attackers can gain access to your computer. If your system notifies you there are updates to be installed do this as soon as possible. In most cases the updates will install when you shutdown or restart the computer. When necessary, Microsoft releases security updates on the second Tuesday of each month and publishes Security update bulletins to announce and describe the update.
Avoid pirated software (warez), cracking tools, and keygens. They are a security risk which can make your computer susceptible to a smörgåsbord of malware infections, remote attacks, exposure of personal information, and identity theft. In some instances an infection may cause so much damage to your system that recovery is not possible and the only option is to wipe your drive, reformat and reinstall the OS.
Avoid peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing programs (i.e. Limewire, eMule, Kontiki, BitTorrent, BitComet, uTorrent, BitLord, BearShare). They too are a security risk which can make your computer susceptible to malware infections. File sharing networks are thoroughly infested with malware according to security firm Norman ASA and many of them are unsafe to visit or use.
Malicious worms, backdoor Trojans IRCBots, and rootkits spread across P2P file sharing networks, gaming, porn and underground sites. Users visiting such pages may see innocuous-looking banner ads containing code which can trigger pop-up ads and malicious Flash ads that install viruses, Trojans, and spyware. Ads are a target for hackers because they offer a stealthy way to distribute malware to a wide range of Internet users. The best way to reduce the risk of infection is to avoid these types of web sites and not use any P2P applications. If you must use file sharing, scan your downloads with anti-virus software before opening them and ensure Windows is configured to show file extensions – Why you should set your folder options to “show known file types”.
Avoid Bundled software. Many toolbars, add-ons/plug-ins, browser extensions, screensavers and useless or junk programs like registry cleaners, optimizers, download managers, etc, come bundled with other software (often without the knowledge or consent of the user) and can be the source of various issues and problems to include Adware and browser hijacking which may change your home page and search engine. Thus, bundled software may be detected and removed by security scanners as a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP), a very broad threat category which can encompass any number of different programs to include those which are benign as well as problematic.
Since the downloading of bundled software sometimes occurs without your knowledge, people are often left scratching their heads and asking “how did this get on my computer.” Even if advised of a toolbar or Add-on, many people do not know that it is optional and not necessary to install in order to operate the program. If you install bundled software too fast, you most likely will miss the “opt out” option and end up with software you do not want or need. But some bundled software do not give you an option to NOT install these add ons. The best practice is to take your time during installation of any program and read everything before clicking that “Install” or “Next” button. Even then, in some cases, this opting out does not always seem to work as intended.
Beware of Rogue Security software as they are one of the most common sources of malware infection. They infect machines by using social engineering and scams to trick a user into spending money to buy a an application which claims to remove malware.
You could make sure you implement all the above or even better install the best anti-malware program currently on the market called Malwarebytes which will protect you from all of the above.
Malwarebytes is a anti-virus alternative and has 4 layers of protection. It uses what it calls Real -Time protection, monitoring your system constantly, always active watching out for possible risks. It also uses very little system resources which means it won’t slow your system down as some anti-virus programs will do.
The 4 levels of protection are:
Real -Time protection will display 4 separate settings:
• Web Protection: Prevents connections to malicious or compromised websites
• Exploit Protection: Prevents vulnerability exploits and zero-day attacks (viruses, trojans etc)
• Malware Protection: Prevents malware infections
• Ransomware Protection: Prevents ransomware from encrypting files
So my recommendation is to get Malwarebytes and let it handle all these little nasties for you.