Protect your computer from viruses in 5 easy steps

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Use these 5 tips to protect your computer against viruses. (Photo: Getty)

Malware is an attack that attempts to take control of a computer and steal sensitive information, such as passwords or banking information. There are three basic forms of malware: viruses, worms and hacks. Viruses are the easiest to spot and can lead to issues such as freezing your computer, locking your computer with pop-up ads, and even taking your computer offline. Hackers can also use malware to steal data from your computer and use it for their own gain.

The good news? There are steps you can take to protect your computer and your personal information. Here are five simple things you can do to avoid computer viruses.

Tip #1: Use antivirus software

If you don’t already have one, install antivirus software, such as Malwarebytes. This can help protect your computer against viruses and malware. Malwarebytes scans your computer for programs known to be harmful, notifies you if it finds any, then removes them from your computer.

Try Malwarebytes Premium for 30 days for free*

Tip #2: Keep your operating system up to date

The best way to protect your computer against viruses is to keep the operating system up to date. This will ensure that there are no known vulnerabilities in the operating system that hackers could exploit for their own purposes. Viruses and malware are constantly being created, so developers frequently update operating system protections to ward off cybercriminals.

Candid shot of a focused and serious young mixed race woman with curly hair typing on a laptop

Viruses can slow down your computer. (Photo: Getty)

Tip #3: Only Download Apps From Trusted Websites

When downloading a new app, make sure you only download from trusted sources. To make sure you’re getting the real deal, you can always check that the app developer’s name matches the company name listed on the app’s store page.

Tip #4: Avoid opening attachments or clicking on links from unknown sources

Always check attachments before opening them. Never download or click on links in emails or social media posts unless they come directly from someone or a business you know and trust. Hackers like to trick people into clicking on links by impersonating friends, co-workers or family members, or even government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service. “If you know how to spot [these spoof accounts]however, you will be able to avoid falling victim to this type of cybercrime,” George Birrell, Chartered Accountant and Founder of TaxHub, says Yahoo Life. “Search for all hidden inaccuracies, [such as] misspellings, inaccurate web addresses, weird questions asked, etc.”

Birrell encourages its customers to exercise caution when browsing the web. “How you behave can have a big impact on your internet safety,” he warns.

Woman using two-factor authentication to log into her computer

Change your passwords often. (Photo: Getty)

Tip #5: Change your password often

Many people think that hackers only target large companies because they have the most to lose, but that’s not always the case. Hackers like soft targets because they’re less likely to change passwords frequently and they’re less likely to detect a breach. So keep changing your passwords every few months at least, or consider using a password manager to create and store stronger passwords.

Try Malwarebytes Premium for 30 days for free*