I protect my PC against viruses and get rid of them?
Viruses are not
the only forms of malicious code that may invade your system.
Worms, Trojans, adware, spyware, key loggers together with viruses
form part of malware running in the wild that may seriously
harm your system and your data while also hogging system resources,
reducing PC performance and Internet bandwidth. Here are seven
ways of protecting yourself against malware.
Today, security threats come in all shapes
and sizes and from a variety of sources including software downloads,
peer-to-peer networks (e.g., Kazaa), floppies, CD or DVDs, emails
and their attachments, chat rooms, your colleagues on the network
and the Internet in general.
So, how can you protect your system and your
data in the midst of so many security threats coming from so
many different sources?
Just imagine, malware has been around for almost 25 years already
and, every year, millions of people and businesses lose valuable
data to viruses, Trojans, worms and other related malicious
code. At times, this data is irrecoverable. The malware toll
is not only on your data but also on your system settings and
resources, PC performance and Internet connections making it
impossible to work or play without adequate protection.
This article is divided into two parts - the
first part explains what you should do to protect yourself against
viruses, worms, and Trojans, while the second part explains
how you can fight spyware and related forms of malware.
For a full explanation of viruses, Trojans and
worms and the damage that may be done to your system read Malware:
Wading through the Jargon.
6 Ways of Fighting
Viruses, Worms and Trojans
1. Update your Operating System Regularly
The first step to protecting your PC and your valuable data
is to ensure that the operating system (OS) is updated with
the latest security patches. This is critical as OS manufacturers
such as Microsoft Windows update security features of their
products continuously to cover any potential and actual loopholes.
To check whether you have the latest update,
click on the Start Menu->All Programs and select the Windows
Windows will take you to http://update.microsoft.com/:
Click on the appropriate button
to download and install and required updates. We usually advise
that this be done at least once every two weeks.
2. Buy Good Anti-Virus Software
Secondly you should have updated anti-virus software running
on your system.
Make sure to choose one of the
better ones on the market today - a few dollars won't break
you but malware will.
Make sure that the anti-virus software
is updated frequently (sometimes even daily if needs be) with
fixes to the actual engine and to the database files that contain
the latest cures against new viruses, worms and Trojans.
The anti-virus software must have
the ability of scanning email and files as they are downloaded
from the Internet to help prevent malware reaching your system.
You should also make sure that the anti-virus software chosen
awards you protection while on the Internet.
3. Know your Processes
Knowing what is running on your computer will increase your
ability to identify potential harmful processes.
Call up the Windows Task Manager (press CTRL+ALT+DEL)
and familiarise yourself with the processes running at any point
Many are using processlibrary.com to learn about
the processes they have running on their computer. This website
is a free resource library containing a comprehensive description
of over 9000 that may be running on your computer. Searching
for the processes is similar to using a search engine - type
in the process name and processlibrary.com returns the full
description including information on security threat levels
if any and ways on removing the malicious code.
If you don't want to go through the rigmarole
of typing in the search, processlibrary.com has an InfoBar which
is essentially a plug-in for your Task Manager. You may download
this free of charge (not a trial version) from here.
Just click on the i-button next
to process and you can pull down information from the Internet
regarding the process in question. With the Task Manager and
process library data you can identify some of the threats. We
say some because the Task Manager does not show you all the
processes and dll's running at any point in time. For that you
need a more powerful tool (such as WinTasks, read, WinTasks
5.0 Professional Unplugged - A Tutorial Guide).
4. Use Firewalls on the Internet
You should also seriously consider installing firewall software
or using the native Windows firewall.
To activate your Windows Firewall click on your
control panel and select Windows Firewall. Switch the firewall
on by ticking the "On" radio button.
A good firewall prevents unauthorised use and
access to your computer from external sources (e.g. hackers
or hijackers) plus giving you additional protection against
the more common Trojans and worms. A firewall on its own will
not get rid of the virus problem but when used in conjunction
with your OS updates, anti-virus software and processlibrary.com
information, it will give you deeper system security and protection.
5. Know your Registry
The latest statistics show that about 94% of computers have
corrupt and possibly harmful files. On average, almost each
PC will have about 150+ errors on them due to registry fragmentation,
and corrupt, unused, missing, orphaned or obsolete entries.
Residual files, unused and undeleted drivers,
and corrupt or bad entries in registry settings will quickly
litter even the newest of computers.The result? Frequent error
messages, slow start-ups, declining and poor performance and
registry integrity, unstable and frequent application errors
and crashes, and, at times, even an inability to start Windows.
Some malware does effect your registry. If you
keep your registry clean and know what is inside, you will be
in a better position to realise immediately when performance
has taken a downturn. We advise you to invest in a good registry
cleaner, one that allows you to scan your registry deeply and
fix all errors. Moreover, the cleaner must be able to backup
6. Backup your data
Prevention is better than cure however you may still catch a
virus no matter how tight your security is. It is always advisable
to backup all your data regularly - at least once a week. And,
if you are a frequent PC user, you should backup your data on
a daily basis.
Fighting Spyware, Adware
and Related Forms of Malware
In some cases, it is not that easy to realise that spyware and
related forms of malware are installed on your system.
For a full explanation of spyware, adware, related
forms of malware and the damage that may be done to your system
are Spyware, Adware, Keyloggers, Diallers and Root Kits?.
In other cases, you will almost immediately
notice changes to your web browser that you didn't make. These
changes include toolbars that you didn't want installed, different
homepage settings or changes to your security settings and favourites
Other signs of spyware include advert pop-ups
which are not related to the website being viewed at the time.
Many such adverts usually relate to pornography or emoticons
or diet pills and are not displayed as they are usually shown
on legitimate adverts. Adverts may also appear when you are
not surfing the web. Spyware is not only annoying but it slows
your system performance, causes start-up time to increase, hogs
your Internet connection and on occasion will lead to system
7. Invest in Anti-Spyware Software
You should install an anti-spyware software package. There are
some good ones on the market and many experts go as far as suggesting
installing two or three since any single package may not be
powerful enough to find all the entries and changes to your
registry and other files made by spyware. Such malware is installed
like any other application on your system thus leaving traces
of itself on the registry files of and other places with your
system. Anti-spyware works by looking for these traces and deleting
Also beware of what you download from the Internet.
Make sure that the sources that you download stuff from are
know to you - and even here you have to pay extreme attention.
For example, not all companies who claim their software contains
adware are really offering adware only! There's always the possibility
that there is spyware disguised in the program. Make sure that
you read privacy policies and licence agreements.
In summary, the seven key components of your
security architecture should include:
1. An Updated Operating System
2. Anti-virus Software
3. Knowledge of all the Processes Running on Your PC
4. A Firewall
5. Registry Cleaner
6. Backup Software
Only in this way can you feel safe that your
valuable personal data is secure from prying eyes and malicious