Think you're protected from adware and malware? Think again. But here are five tips to avoid leaving your computer vulnerable.Because new malware and adware threats emerge all the time, simply having prevention systems in place isn't always enough. And that means that simple browsing can leave your computer exposed. Fortunately, the folks at BluePhone have compiled a list of ways to prevent an infection before it happens. 1. Be proactive. Have inbound and outbound firewall-enabled plus antivirus and anti-spyware software installed. This will alert you when someone tries to access a targeted computer to put software on it. Major antivirus companies have adware and malware protection combined. Norton and CA are popular suite options. AVG, Avira, and Avast offer free stand-alone anti-virus software, while Lavasoft and SuperAntiSpyware offer free stand-alone anti-spyware software. It's also a good idea use a broadband router instead of directly connecting your computer to a high-speed modem. Most broadband routers include a hardware firewall that provides additional protection. Finally, ensure that you have all the latest security updates for your operating system and applications by visiting the manufacturer's Web sites or turning on automatic updates.
2. Stick to familiar Web sites. When searching for common information, make sure it is from a reputable source. If during the search you don't recognize the site that pops up, at the very least, be wary of the links and downloads offered on that site. Popular, heavy-traffic sites such as About, YouTube, MSN, Yahoo, Wikipedia, and any number of familiar news sites are sure to be safer bets.
3. Download from reputable sites. Downloading presents the greatest danger of introducing adware or malware into a system. Accidentally downloading an unwanted program instead of the one that is really wanted is a common mistake. As well, downloading one program only to have it bundled with potentially unwanted software programs can be a common problem. Reputable downloads sites like CNET Download.com, Softonic, and Softpedia offer editor and user ratings for more insight into other people's experiences with a particular program.
4. Check for unfamiliar programs. Every now and then, it's a good idea to check the applications programs listed in the computer control panel to see if there are programs that you don't recognize. If something doesn't look like it belongs there and it can be identified as unnecessary, remove it. If it cannot be determined what exactly it is, search for that particular program online or run a scan with one of the options outlined in step 5.
5. Run regular scans. Antivirus and anti-spyware software should be running regular and automatic system scans to detect issues. Real-time protection should be turned on as well as automatic updates. Research continues to show that people are commonly infected by malware simply because it was not up to date.