A virus for the sake of this guide is an infection that hijacks an existing program to do malicious tasks. The important question is, how do we avoid getting a virus in the first place? Virus’ are usually obtained by taking a manual step like clicking on a link in an email or downloading pirated software. Although there are other means of coming across a virus, these are the primary methods.
How do we know if we have a virus? Virus’ are usually noticed when a program stops functioning the way that it should. A once normal program may seem sluggish and may have errors. Virus’ change the code of existing programs to do the will of the virus rather than the will of the program. Getting a virus is not too common, however. Any half decent anti-virus program stops them pretty quickly, before they are even on your system.
Side-note: Both Mac and Windows get virus’, a virus in Windows is more common simply because it is the most preferred operating system.
1) Don’t torrent illegal software
Illegal software torrenting has to be the #1 cause for virus’ on computers. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of ‘legitimate’ sources for pirated software, but if you download the wrong torrent/magnet link then be prepared to either fix the problem yourself, bring the computer into a computer repair shop or ignore it and suffer the consequences.
2) Don’t torrent/download illegal music
Music, in all (digital) forms, can be injected with a virus’, period. Usually torrents are pretty safe for such a download, but be especially aware of programs such as Limewire, Frostwire, and any program like it. Those programs are riddled with infections, you might as well have asked them to come into your computer and handed them the pin to your credit card.
3) Don’t click on links from unknown sources
Most people are familiar with this tip; it was once the primary way that infections were spread through the internet. I don’t feel that there is much to say on this one, if you don’t know exactly who sent the email, ignore it. Also beware of criminals ‘masking’ their email addresses to look like the emails of a legitimate company. Most companies, especially financial institutions, will NEVER send an email containing a link. They will usually tell you to log into your account online, but not include a link for the very fear of people getting a masked email from a criminal.