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5 common myths about computer viruses

MP900431217-680x777We all know not to get a computer virus. That’s why we sign up for those free trials for antivirus, right?

So, we all do what good little web surfers are told to do in good-web-surfer’s Sunday school:

  • We make sure to renew that free trial of AV our computer came with.
  • We’re sure to clean our PC with one of those computer-cleaning downloads.
  • We know to never, ever go to adult websites.

 

Well, my friend, allow me to take about 5 minutes  and share a few things you may incorrectly believe about computer viruses…

1. If your computer starts popping up errors, you’ve got a virus!

There are a lot of working components to make your computer operate. And any one of these can get corrupted in a number of ways without the help of a virus. As a matter of fact, it’s even possible that your antivirus itself may be causing the conflict that’s causing the error. However, don’t take it lightly. If you’re not really savvy in the ways of geek-ery, trust your local IT guy to have a look.

2.  I don’t have to worry about viruses. I have a Mac.

This one just makes my head hurt to even type.  Macs have gotten the reputation for being virus-proof, but nothing could be further from the truth. Due to their relatively low install base, it’s true that they are safer than PCs – but that will change as Macs become more popular, making them more of a target base.  More and more Mac users are falling victim to malware, and Apple has humbly recanted their boast of the virus-proof computer. Of course, nothing is user-proof… Many a Mac has been infected by illegal downloads.

3. You won’t get infected if you keep Antivirus on your computer.

Unfortunately, we have to admit that not only is it untrue, your anti-virus itself may be infecting your computer!  First of all, you have to understand how antivirus works. Antivirus uses signature files of known viruses to be able to identify one coming in. When it sees one it can identify, it puts it into quarantine until you can check it out. And it has to do regular updates to keep up-to-date on the latest viruses to guard against.

Of course, an antivirus can guard against potential unknown viruses, too, by watching for typical “virus” behavior, like things targeting EXE files.  However, a virus that’s not quite so typically aggressive can go unnoticed, and just like that, your computer’s infected.

And of course, there are also those lovely viruses that disable your antivirus without your knowledge.

Then, there’s the Antivirus Virus. As you’re surfing along on the Internet, admiring all the cute kittie videos, a warning box comes up of a virus of your computer and asks if you want to remove it. You choose to kill said threat (as any good web citizen would)…. Congratulations. Your computer is now infected. And that “anti-virus” that’s on your computer is actually the virus itself.

 

4. I don’t have antivirus on my computer, and I’ve never had a virus.

I wouldn’t wager money on that, my friend. Most viruses are actually made to go undetected for quite a long time. Ransomware often does nothing to damage your computer – it’s only purpose is to take important personal files with the intention of requiring you to pay money to get them back. Spyware, on the other hand, sits quietly in the background while you surf the Internet – inserting advertisements that actually shouldn’t be there, or worse … gathering those usernames, passwords, and credit card numbers you use.

And then you have the really fun viruses that lay low until they’re set to detonate.

 

5. Porn sites are the most likely place to get a virus.

The world is full of cruel irony, and this would be no exception.  Last year, when Symantec did it’s annual Internet Security Threat Report , they caused quite a stir. After doing their year’s worth of research on trends in Internet threats, they released their 10 Most Dangerous Website Categories.  And Pornography was at the bottom of the list at number 10!

Truth of the matter is, you’re actually more likely to get a virus from an average church website than a pornography website, and the reason is simple.

Money.

The adult-themed industry has the financial backing to take the proper security measures when it comes to their websites – website updates, brute force counters in place, etc.

However, a religious, ideological, non-profit, or personal website may not have the funds or the know-how to keep up such practices – leaving them far more likely to pass malware to their visitors.

So, lesson is:

1. Get a good, solid antivirus from a respectable source. (Good rule of thumb – check a friendly geek’s computer to see what’s on his! Hey – I’ll even let you see what’s on mine…)

2. Keep that antivirus running updates constantly so it can trap the new stuff that’s going around.

3. If you’re on the Internet, you’re at risk. Period. No matter what brand you use, what site you’re on, or even if you already have AV.

 

Happy surfing, and stay safe!