Skip to main content

How to Avoid Malware

Here at Phone Medics Plus, we’re committed to helping you get your computer back in top form after a virus or malware infection, but we also know how much you rely on your computer, and how inconvenient it can be to go without it for a day or two while it’s being repaired. With that in mind, we wanted to give you some tips on the best way to keep your computer safe and healthy and free of malware.

Safe Browsing Habits

Your first and most important line of defense when it comes to keeping your computer safe from malware is to establish safe browsing habits. If we think of malware as germs, then this is like avoiding contaminated surfaces. You don’t eat food off the floor, you don’t let your baby lick the grocery cart handle, and you practice safe browsing habits when you’re on the internet. The first step to safe browsing is simply to avoid questionable websites. These sorts of sites take many forms – some offer you too-good-to-be-true deals on vacations or impossible deals on products or free downloads of that movie that just came out that you can’t wait to see. These websites can infect your computer in a few ways, but the most common one is by tricking you into downloading something. You should never download anything from a website you don’t absolutely trust, and if a website you aren’t sure about tries to download something to your computer, that’s your cue to leave.

To give your safe browsing habits a boost, there are a few handy browser extensions that will increase your security. Ad-blockers like Adblock Plus or uBlock Origin, and tracking blockers like Disconnect, Privacy Badger, or Ghostery will go a long way toward helping keep you safe and virus free in your travels around the internet.

That said, you should avoid downloading browser extensions, including toolbars, from anywhere but your browser’s official marketplace (the Google Chrome Webstore or Firefox’s Add-Ons page). Toolbars and other browser extensions have been a popular tool for malware creators for years. They can monitor your browsing habits, inject extra ads into the websites you visit, and even hijack your browser.

Sneaky Check Boxes

Sometimes when you’re installing legitimate software, you get on a roll and just keep clicking Next… Next… Next, without necessarily reading what you’re agreeing to. Most of the time this doesn’t cause any great problem. Sometimes, though, the installation finishes up and you discover that software you didn’t want has been installed on your computer alongside the program you wanted. The reason is pretty simple: one of those screens where you clicked Next or OK without reading it had a checkbox that said you agreed to install the second program.

If you don't un-check this box, you'll install more software than you intended to.
While programs that install this way are often harmless, antivirus programs will flag many of them when they scan your system. You’ll see them in scan reports as PUPs - Potentially Unwanted Programs.

The best way to avoid having these sorts of programs installed on your computer is to simply read all those screens you usually click through. Keep a lookout for any references to other software, and make sure to uncheck any boxes that say you’re agreeing to install it on your system.

Stay Up-to-Date

Your second line of defense is keeping your computer’s operating system up to date. A lot of malware exploits design flaws in your computer’s operating system. Microsoft and Apple understand that, so they usually do a good job of fixing those flaws as soon as they find them. The same goes for your browser. Google and Mozilla are always on the lookout for security flaws in their browsers (Google even holds an annual hack-a-thon with prizes for people who find new security flaws), and are usually good about getting flaws patched quickly.

If you keep your computer and your browser up-to-date you’ll protect yourself from a lot of the malware out there. These updates are the vaccines that keep your computer from ever getting viruses, even when it’s exposed to them.

Anti-Malware Software

The truth is, probably 90% of malware can be avoided just by practicing safe browsing habits and keeping your computer up to date – just like you can usually avoid getting sick by staying away from contaminated environments and staying up to date on your vaccines. For the other 10%, there are software tools that will help you stay safe. Have you ever seen someone at the airport wearing a surgical mask so they don’t get sick? Do you carry hand sanitizer in your purse? Wash your hands after a trip to the bathroom or after touching something dirty? That’s what these tools are: they keep your computer clean even when it gets contaminated.

If your PC is running Windows 10, then you’ve already got a couple of these tools built in: Windows Defender comes with active monitoring and malware removal tools, and it’s built right into your operating system, so if you do nothing else, then at least make sure Windows Defender is on. There are also free antivirus programs like Bitdefender and Kaspersky that provide excellent real-time monitoring of your system. Even with Bitdefender, Kaspersky, or Windows Defender running, though, it’s good to have a little extra protection. You can do that by downloading a second antivirus software – the free version of Malwarebytes is a great option – and running periodic scans with it. You’ll want to make sure that your secondary software does not do real-time protection, though, since two antivirus programs trying to run real-time protection at the same time can cause major system problems.

Call The Professionals

Unfortunately, even if you follow all these safety habits, sometimes your computer will still get sick. If it does, that’s when you want to bring it to the trained professionals at Phone Medics Plus. When you bring your sick computer to us, our skilled and knowledgeable technicians can get it healthy again. You can call us, book an appointment online, or visit our repair facility at 91 E. Merritt Island Causeway in Merritt Island, 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Using Your Cell Phone During A Hurricane

The hurricane season may be nearing its end for this year, but it's far from over. With Hurricane Michael about to make landfall in the Florida panhandle and a few other systems threatening to spin up in the Atlantic, now is a good time to take a look at some of the ways your cell phone should factor into your emergency preparedness plan.

Weather Apps In preparing for a hurricane, as in many things in life, one of the most important tools you have is information. While you can access information about hurricanes from a variety of sources, including local news, there are a number of smartphone apps that can help you get a handle on what’s going on. The two most popular are Hurricane Tracker and Hurricane: American Red Cross, both of which are available for iPhone and Android.

Manage Battery Life Hurricanes and power outages go hand in hand. If you’re in an area that gets hit, you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose power for at least a few hours. When that happens, you want to make s…

Phone Medics Plus Can Replace Your Old iPhone’s Battery

Here at Phone Medics Plus, we are committed to helping you extend the lifespan of your device for as long as possible. That’s why we have offered battery replacement services to the people of Brevard County for more than four years.


In early 2017, users of certain older iPhone models began to notice that their phones were running slower after updating to iOS 10.2.1, and that replacing the battery fixed the problem. Rumor ran wild around the internet that Apple was deliberately using iOS software updates to slow down older phones in an attempt to entice users to upgrade to newer devices.

Apple quickly responded to the controversy, apologizing for the situation and explaining why they had chosen to slow the older iPhones down. While most of the components inside an iPhone don’t really break down with age, the battery is an exception. The lithium ion batteries inside most consumer electronics are perishable: they have a limited number of charge cycles, and as they age, the chemicals inside…

How to Know if You Have Malware

In our last post we told you about the best ways to keep your computer safe from malware. Safe browsing habits, keeping your computer up to date, and using a few basic software tools like an antivirus program with real-time monitoring, a backup antivirus scanner, and a few basic browser extensions will all go a long way toward keeping your computer safe and healthy.



Unfortunately, just as with real germs, it isn’t always possible to avoid every infection. Sometimes, even when you take every precaution to keep your hands and your work space clean and avoid sharing breathing space with people who are sick, you still end up catching that cold that’s going around the office. The same goes for your computer. Sometimes, even if you’re doing everything right, you can still find yourself bogged down with malware. So the big question is, how do you know if your PC is infected, and what do you do about it?

While your computer won’t get a fever or the sniffles or complain of a tummy ache, there …