14 Computer Virus Protection Tips

How to avoid viruses on PC, Mac, Android, and iOS

A man and woman looking at a laptop while lying on a bed

Whether you're browsing on your computer or smartphone, it's important to have sufficient internet security to protect you from potential virus or malware threats. Good computer protection can make all the difference when it comes to protecting you from virulent threats, but there are also useful tips and methods when browsing that can stop you from even getting near a threat. 

Here's a look at the best tips and tricks for how to protect yourself from viruses and malware, no matter what device you use.

Install Antivirus Protection

All devices can substantially benefit from antivirus software. Such protection ensures that there's always a piece of software keeping a vigilant eye on anything attempting to access your computer or smartphone. The moment it detects an issue, good antivirus software will stop it before it begins to damage your system and files. 

We recommend you install a reputable antivirus software package for the best results. 

Install Anti-Malware Software

Some antivirus software will adequately protect you from malware threats, but it's worthwhile running an anti-malware software scanner regularly too. Besides detecting dangerous threats, they also keep an eye on ad tracking cookies and other irritants that you can collect while you browse. 

Keep Software up to Date

Always keep the software you run up to date. Operating system updates are vital, but also programs such as Java, Adobe Flash and Adobe Acrobat Reader need regular updates to ensure that they don't suffer from any security issues that can make you an easy target to threats. 

Think Before You Install New Software

Is the software you're planning on installing from a reputable source, such as the App Store, Play Store, or a well known website? If it's not, consider whether it's safe to use. Installers can include nefarious files such as Trojans or forms of ransomware, especially if you've downloaded something via a torrenting source. 

Don't Use Your Computer's Admin Accounts

Administrator accounts are great when you want to perform system tasks, but they're not a good idea to use on a daily basis. Set yourself and other family members up with separate user profiles so that if you are infected with a virus, it's limited with what it's able to do. 

Lock Down Your Security Settings

iOS users benefit from an operating system that's heavily locked down. For everyone else, check your security settings to ensure that they keep you protected from any threats. By default, they should do, but it's worth getting acquainted with what each setting does. 

Don't Open Suspect Attachments

Received an attachment from someone you don't know? Don't open it until you confirm its source and what the file is. It could well be a virus of some sort. 

If you've received an unexpected attachment from a friend but the email doesn't seem like their usual style, check with them before opening it to confirm that they actually sent it. Their account may have been hacked

Always Scan Email Attachments

Sites such as Gmail automatically scan your files for viruses, but for everywhere else, make sure to manually scan any attachments you receive. Even if you know the source, they could be infected with a virus and not realize it. 

Don't Open Suspicious Links

Whether you've been sent a link via an email, instant message, or SMS, be wary. Like attachments, if you weren't expecting it, check with the sender what it is first. If there are any strange spelling errors or anything that seems wrong, don't risk it. Safety first. 

Links on Facebook or SMS apps typically provide a preview of the link. Pay attention to what they're displaying. 

Avoid Suspicious Websites

The internet is vast and wonderful, but like a city, some places aren't as safe as others. Keep to reputable websites and steer clear of the more obviously murky parts of the internet

Beware of Pop-Up Windows

Many sites load pop-up window banner ads. Nefarious banner ads can be designed to mimic the appearance of a regular window on your computer, even looking like antivirus software sometimes. If one appears unexpectedly, look at it carefully to check if it's actually coming from your software or whether it's something on your web browser. If in doubt, don't click it. 

Keep Your Network Secure

Use Wi-Fi to connect to the internet? Make sure the password for it is strong, and never broadcast an open Wi-Fi connection. Ideally, keep your SSID hidden so that only you can find it via a manual search. 

Back up Your Computer and Smartphone Regularly

Prevention is key but if the worst happens and you're initially infected with a virus or malware — make sure you have backups of all your files. Don't restore it unless you're entirely sure the backup isn't also infected. 

Be Cautious of USB Devices

If you've been given a USB drive, be wary before using it. Ideally, disable autoplay on your computer and run a virus scan on it before opening any files. It's an easy way for viruses to be transmitted, knowingly or unwittingly by the person who gave you it.