No matter how careful you may be, most people will get a computer virus at some point in their lives. Viruses are just too prevalent on the Internet to be avoided forever, regardless of how good your antivirus software may be. Because of this, you should always take great care to avoid putting yourself in a situation where a virus might harm your computer. By keeping a few basic things in mind when browsing the Internet you can greatly reduce your chances of doing harm to your operating system or computer.
If you’re unsure whether a particular website is safe, run it through an online check. If you enter the URL of the website into a search engine like Google, the search result for that website will let you know if anyone has reported it as an “attack site.” This means that viruses, spyware and other types of malware are confirmed to reside on that particular site. It may be a bit of a hassle to run a check on the sites you visit, but it’s something you’ll wish you had done if you end up getting a virus. McAfee’s website also offers a similar checking system for potentially malicious websites.
Make sure you’re actually downloading the file that you want to download and not a virus. Some file hosting websites place the “Download” button for a particular file in the center of many different advertisements all designed to mimic the download button you’re actually looking for. Clicking the wrong button could open an ad, but it could also cause you to accidentally download a file that you don’t want. If you’re on a particularly suspicious website, downloading and running the file could execute a virus on your computer. Always make sure you’re clicking on a genuine “Download” button and aren’t handing your computer over to a virus.
Only download software directly from the source. If you’re trying to download a demo version of the latest video game, for example, don’t download it from anywhere else besides that game’s official site. Many times virus distributors will try to trick people into downloading a virus by mimicking the file name of a particular game or program that they know people will want to download. You can eliminate this threat completely by making sure that you only download software from legitimate sources.
Don’t try to pirate movies, games or television shows from the Internet. Though it may be tempting to watch that latest movie for free, not only are you breaking the law and putting yourself in legal jeopardy but you’re also greatly increasing your chances of getting a virus. It’s better to not only do things the correct and legal way, but to do the safe way as well. That Hollywood blockbuster will hardly feel worth it after you’ve been sued for copyright infringement and your computer has been destroyed by a virus.
Don’t open e-mails or download attachments from anyone you don’t know. Many viruses find their way into a person’s inbox in the form of an e-mail. Even if a particular viruses doesn’t download itself to your computer it can still get ahold of your e-mail account and start wreaking havoc on your contact list. If you got an e-mail from a sender that you don’t recognize and it requires that you download a file, delete that message as soon as possible.