This article is the first in a series of tips that BleepingComputer will be publishing as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. This first tip focuses on making sure you not only have an anti-virus program installed, but to also keep it updated.
Many of you reading this may think that everyone knows that they should install an anti-virus program. The reality is, that we see many visitors coming to BleepingComputer for help that either do not have an anti-virus program installed or they have not been keeping them updated. If they had been, their problems could have been mitigated, if not outright prevented.The first step any computer user should perform is to install an anti-virus program on their computer. These programs will scan files as you access them and prevent you from opening them if they contain an infection. Most anti-virus programs will also protect you from malicious web sites, scripts, and attacks on your computer from remote locations. There is absolutely no excuse for not having an anti-virus program installed as there are numerous free versions that provide excellent protection for your computer. These include Avast
, Microsoft Security Essentials
, and AVG
.Once you install an anti-virus program, though, you must make sure they stay updated with the latest protections or the program will become useless. As new viruses are released, the anti-virus companies add these new viruses to their detection routines. These new detections are called virus definitions. As new viruses are released daily it is important that you stay on top of making sure your anti-virus program has the latest viruses definitions installed. If you do not do this, then your installed anti-virus program will use outdated definitions that do not contain detections for new viruses and will therefore not be able to protect you from them. With this said, no matter what brand of anti-virus program you use, make sure they stay updated! If you are using a commercial anti-virus program, then make sure you pay and renew the virus definitions subscription so that you stay protected. If you cannot afford or do not wish to pay for these virus definitions, then uninstall that anti-virus program and install one of the free ones listed above.
I can't stress enough how important it is for all users to install anti-virus protection on your computer. This should be your first line of defense and if properly maintained will provide protection from most virus threats that may attack your computer. It should be noted though that anti-virus programs are not all created equal and will not protect you from every virus out there. Having one installed, though, will provide 100% more protection than not having one. So get out there and install an anti-virus program. More imrpotant, keep them updated!
If you have any questions about anti-virus programs or how to use them, please feel free to ask in our AntiVirus, Firewall and Privacy Products and Protection Methods forum