Tips to protect yourself against malware and reduce the potential for re-infection:
• Keep Windows and Internet Explorer current
with all security updates
from Microsoft which will patch many of the security holes through which attackers can gain access to your 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. If you're not sure how to install updates, please refer to Updating your computer
. Microsoft also recommends Internet 6 and 7 users to upgrade their browsers
due to security vulnerabilities which can be exploited by hackers.
• Avoid gaming sites
, porn sites
, pirated software
), 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 infected and infested with malware according to Senior Virus Analyst, Norman ASA
. 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.
• 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. For more specific information on how these types of rogue programs install themselves and spread infections, read How Malware Spreads - How did I get infected
• Keeping Autorun enabled
on flash drives has become a significant security risk
as they are one of the most common infection vectors for malware which can transfer the infection to your computer. One in every eight malware attacks occurs via a USB device
. Many security experts recommend you disable Autorun
as a method of prevention. Microsoft recommends doing the same
Note: If using Windows 7
, be aware that in order to help prevent malware from spreading, the Windows 7 engineering team made important changes
and improvements to AutoPlay
so that it will no longer support the AutoRun functionality for non-optical removable media.
• Always update vulnerable software
, Adobe Reader
, Adobe Flash Player
and Java Runtime Environment (JRE)
with the latest security patches. Older versions of these programs have vulnerabilities that malicious sites can use to exploit and infect your system
and vendors regularly issue Security bulletins and advisories
• Use strong passwords
and change them anytime you encounter a malware infection, especially if the computer was used for online banking, paying bills, has credit card information or other sensitive data on it. This would include any used for taxes, email, eBay, paypal and other online activities. You should consider them to be compromised
and change all passwords immediately as a precaution in case an attacker was able to steal your information when the computer was infected. If using a router
, you need to reset it with a strong logon/password so the malware cannot gain control before connecting again.
• Don't disable UAC
in Vista or Windows 7 and use Limited User Accounts]
• Don't forget to Back up your important data and files
on a regular basis. Some infections may render your computer unbootable during or before the disinfection process
. Even if you're computer is not infected, backing up is part of best practices in the event of hardware or system failure related to other causes.
• Finally, use common sense
, safe computing
and safe surfing habits
provides the most complete protection.