- Pay attention and listen to the voice in your head: when browsing the Internet, a window might suddenly appear telling you either your computer is infected or that a special plug-in is required accompanied with a directive to perform a specific action. The action might be calling a phone number or installing some software. If this seems strange or you don’t understand what is being asked of you, don’t do it!
- Hitchhikers: when installing software downloaded from the Internet, be sure it has come from a reputable source and watch out for additional software being installed at the same time as the software you think you are installing. If the installer has a Custom Install option, select that and review the checkboxes indicating what other software will be installed. Be especially careful if you are downloading utilities and games.
- Opening e-mail attachments: as a general rule, do not open attachments you aren’t expecting. Even if the attachment looks like it comes from a legitimate source, call that source to confirm they really sent it before opening the attachment.
- Watch the links: keep an eye on web links, especially those in emails, and make sure they really direct you to where you think you should be going.
- Inserting or connecting an infected thumb drive or disc: again, make sure you know where the drive or disc came from.
- Avoid pirated software, music, or movies: sites such as BitTorrent that allow for the unlawful exchange of media can be sources of viruses.
- Stay current: stay on supported versions of your operating system, install updates from the operating system vendor and from your major application vendors, and run a solid antivirus program (even on Macs) and keep that current.
Even by being extremely diligent, malware can still creep into your computer. That is one of the several reasons to have a comprehensive backup strategy in place.