There are more than 60,000 known computer viruses, with dozens more appearing each day. What can you do to keep your computer (and your data) safe?
Like a cold, prevention is the best approach. It's easier to avoid viruses than it is to remove them and repair the damage they do. Here are the critical steps to prevent infections:
- Install a good antivirus program. There are several good antivirus programs available, some of them are free. For PC's we recommend Avast! Anti-virus, for Mac's we recommend Sophos for Mac.
- Update your virus definitions. Once installed, your antivirus program needs to be updated to identify the latest viruses. Most programs automatically download virus definition updates, check the website of your antivirus program for more information.
- Run Windows or Mac Updates. Many viruses take advantage of security flaws in the Microsoft or Mac OS X operating systems. Running Windows or Mac updates on a regular basis will fix many of these flaws so the viruses can't get in.
- Don't open attachments you don't recognize. viruses often spread via attachments to email. When you get a strange attachment, even if it's from someone you know, don't open it.
- Don't visit shady web sites. Viruses, in addition to spyware and adware, can be introduced to your computer without you doing anything more than viewing a corrupted web page. If a website pops up an invitation to install software, just say no unless you REALLY, REALLY trust the site and the software mentioned.
Think you might have a virus? Check out our 'Do I Have A Virus?' page.
Adware and Spyware
In addition to viruses there is a whole separate group of bad programs out there that like to sneak onto your computer without asking first. These programs will try to hijack your browser or send information about the sites you visit to an advertiser. Click here to learn how to avoid these programs, and how to remove the ones you probably already have.
Dealing with a Virus
Removing a Virus
When surfing the Internet it is important to know what is out there and how it can affect your computer.
Click here to find out how to avoid falling for the latest e-mail hoaxes, be it about a supposed virus or some other attempt to fool you.
Latest virus alerts
Click here to see the latest virus alerts from Symantec and McAfee. This page pulls from these companies directly, so it's always the very latest.