Computer viruses: dispelling the myths
At this very moment, despicable people are creating computer viruses to make your computer do their bidding. Anti-virus software is your first line of defence against these digital diseases.
However, there are some pervasive myths aboutcomputer viruses and the anti-virus software that can prevent them, and consequently some soloists don’t have the protection they should. This article will set you straight.
Myth: Computer viruses only come from dodgy websites
It’s true that people who distribute explicit and illegal content on the internet often have no qualms about infecting their site visitors with viruses and Trojans. What comes as a surprise to some people is that you can also get viruses from seemingly legitimate places.
For example, sometimes, clicking on ads on legitimate sites can install viruses. Website and blog owners who are looking for cash don’t necessarily check out prospective advertisers thoroughly before accepting the deal.
Myth: Anti-virus software is expensive
With some popular software selling for $90 per computer per year, some people will take the risk rather than pay, but there are other options. Microsoft actually offers one for free – Microsoft Security Essentials, which, when kept updated, is quite good. Many other free ones exist; some are for home users only while others are fine for business use too.
"I guarantee that your computer will run faster with any anti-virus software than it will with an actual virus on it."
Myth: Anti-virus software makes computers slow
Any program running on your computer uses system resources, and if there aren’t enough resources for all the programs, they will run slowly. Some anti-virus programs are resource hogs, particularly those that include toolbars and backup programs and multiple additional features you may never use. There are plenty that aren’t though, and I guarantee that your computer will run faster with any anti-virus software than it will with an actual virus on it.
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Myth: Macs can’t get computer viruses
Just because it happens infrequently doesn’t mean it never happens, and the frequency is likely to increase.
Imagine you’re an evil virus-writing miscreant and you want to create havoc with your new virus: you’re going to aim for the biggest target, which happens to be PCs at the moment, because Windows has such a huge share of the market.
But Macs are quickly increasing market share, and Mac users who believe they can’t get viruses don’t buy anti-virus software. If you were an evil virus writer and noticed that attacking Macs could be highly lucrative, you’d be capturing credit card details as soon as your eyeballs shrank back into their sockets and your pupils stopped looking like little cartoon dollar signs.
Myth: I have backups – if I get a virus, I’ll just restore
This is not a bad idea, but relies on a couple of assumptions. Firstly, those backups need to have been done regularly and successfully. Hands up everybody who has checked their backups worked overnight … I thought so. There is also the assumption that you’ll notice the virus straight away, so it hasn’t been backed up along with the rest of your data.
Myth: My computer guy can easily get rid of a virus for me
Computer guys and girls everywhere receive countless requests to remove viruses from computers that never had any protection. It is a long, arduous process, and the cost of having a virus removed will reflect that.
If you’re lucky enough to have a friend or relative doing it for you for free, bringing the pain upon yourself (and them) by running your computer without anti-virus software is just not cool!
So what should you do?
Install anti-virus software and keep it updated. Plain and simple.
Be aware though that sometimes the virus guys come out with something that the anti-virus guys didn’t see coming. Antidotes to most new computer viruses are available within a couple of hours of them appearing, and your anti-virus software will be automatically updated. A small risk still exists, so it pays to be vigilant while online.
Have you been the victim of an evil virus-writing miscreant? What happened, and what do you do differently now to stop it happening again?