Millions of web users prowl about the internet with only limited knowledge of the hazards and threats out there. As a result many hackers and users with malicious intentions are able to exploit the ignorance of others. Hackers can utilize a wide variety of methods to gain control of information, emails, accounts, or even the victim’s computer. As a result of these threats there is a variety of companies out there that are willing to offer you antivirus programs and other security software to help protect you and your computer. Unfortunately many people are unaware of the protection they will need. These companies are always looking to make money, so they will try to convince you that you absolutely need a paid subscription for an upgraded antivirus program. Below we will analyze just how much protection you will need to do your daily computing, and which antivirus programs will deliver exactly what you want and need.
When it comes to internet users, there are a wide variety of people with just as wide of a variety of internet needs. Whether you are a social butterfly, a shopaholic, an online banker, an avid movie watcher, or a complex mixture of all of them, different actions on the computer can put you at risk in different ways. Here is a list of general activities, their risks and the precautions you should take:
- Online banking – with this you need to be completely sure that your computer is secure. Your financial information is a goldmine for hackers. Some of the most common ways they will attempt to retrieve your bank information is by key loggers and phishing sites. Running a quick scan of your computer will help, as well as making sure to log out when you are finished.
- General browsing – you don’t always have to visit porn sites or other adult content sites to get a virus. In fact even the most harmless of Google searches can redirect you to a malicious site. Be careful of suspicious sites and try to avoid them when you can, however having your antivirus program run a scan daily, or every other few days, should rid your computer of any Trojans or other viruses that you may have picked up along the way.
- Facebook/social network sites – the main target of hackers of late has been Facebook. Its popularity and wide expanse of users has made it a playground for malicious attackers. Facebook accounts are highly sought after and they can be hacked by multiple means (click here to learn more about Facebook account hacking) such as phishing, control of the primary email, brute force hacking, key loggers, and more. Make sure never to put your login details in any other site other than Facebook. Also, running thorough scans should catch key loggers.
- Buying/selling online – same as with your online banking information, a hacker would love to get ahold of your credit card information or PayPal so that they can exploit it for their own means. Scammers, key loggers, phishing sites, and other viruses/malicious software can be used in this situation. Make sure to perform regular scans as well as keep your antivirus up to date. Also don’t put your information in any site that is suspicious or isn’t verified by a trusted payer such as PayPal.
- YouTube – YouTube does an excellent job of working to prevent viruses and other malicious programs from targeting its users. It recodes all of the videos which, in essence, rids the videos of any potential viruses. They have also disabled links in their comments and added numerous other features. However, not all video sites are as proactive in their attempt to stop hackers so be wary and use trusted sites only.
- Downloading files – this is the number one way to infect your computer with a virus/worm/ or malicious software program. The hacker will attempt to create a program that seems to be something completely different than it is; a helpful antivirus perhaps or even some useful plugin. Either way, most of the viruses and malware gain access to your computer by you downloading them. Make sure to scan the download for infections and scan your computer regularly.
So how do you protect yourself you ask? Truth is, it is almost impossible to stop all malicious attacks against your computer. There are thousands and thousands of hackers and many of them work to exploit antivirus programs and firewalls so that they can have access to your computer/data. However, most hackers try to affect as wide of a population base as possible and their efforts are generally not focused in on one individual person. This means that you are can find safety in numbers…somewhat. A minimal firewall and antivirus system, coupled with an awareness of internet safety precautions, will be more than sufficient to protect yourself and your computer from being successfully hacked.
No need to spend your hard earned cash here; there are several free antivirus programs that will suit your needs.
Avast! Free Antivirus – Top picked free antivirus program. Has excellent features, fast download, speedy scans, sandboxing, and more. Click here for the download.
Microsoft Security Essentials – has slightly slower scanning and lower detection rates than Avast but it is still a great free antivirus program. Click here for the download.
Avira AntiVir Personal Edition – great malware detection but somewhat annoying. Click here for the download.
AVG Anti-virus Free – great behavioral blocker but takes forever to download. Click here for the download.