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6 ways to beat computer viruses

Computer viruses: they’ve been around for years, and they aren’t going away. And they continue to proliferate and cause major damage, with the “Gumblar” or “Geno” virus as the latest high-profile virus to infect computers.

This virus is a particularly insidious one, with a multi-phased attack. After infecting a machine, Gumblar installs a series of malware programs, including a small application capable of stealing FTP credentials. It can gain control of an entire website and freely operate it.

Gumblar also monitors the infected user’s online activity, and waits for the user to conduct Google searches. The malware hijacks the search results, replacing them with any link of its choice and further infecting the computer with malware. The virus also installs a fake antivirus program known as System Security 2009, and disables any legitimate security software.

So what can you do to avoid becoming a victim of this and other viruses? Here are the top strategies to follow:

1. Be sure to install updates for Microsoft® products
Using Microsoft Update with automatic updating is a strong – and simple to implement – first line of defence against security threats. The Microsoft Update site scans your computer and gives you a list of updates that are relevant to your computer and its configuration.

2. Install the latest versions of Adobe Reader and Flash Player
The Gumblar virus takes advantage of common Adobe Reader, Adobe Acrobat, and Adobe Shockwave Flash Player vulnerabilities, which lead to the download of additional malicious files. Keeping these programs up-to-date can help ensure you’ve got the latest and most secure versions available.

3. Create and maintain strong passwords
Keeping and using strong passwords, and changing them regularly, is a very important step in keeping your online accounts, computer files and personal information secure. Ideally, passwords should be long and use the entire keyboard, not just the letters and characters you use or see most often.

4. Invest in quality antivirus and antispyware protection
while it isn’t a 100% guarantee of security, your risk of virus infection is significantly lower when you use a comprehensive antivirus protection program. Without some sort of protection, you are virtually guaranteed to become a victim of viruses, spyware and spam.

5. Don’t click on unknown links or attachments
Never click on any unfamiliar links embedded in an e-mail, or open attachments from unknown senders. And check for anything unusual even in links you do recognise; slightly altered domain names could indicate that a site has been hijacked.

6. Download files only from trusted sites
You should only download files from known, well-established sources. Never download anything if you’re not certain what it is. When in doubt, don’t download the file to your computer at all: download it onto an external drive or USB stick, and then check the files with antivirus scanning software.

Source : hp newsletter

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