How to Stay Virus-Free When Searching the Web

These days it's almost impossible to surf the web or download software without putting yourself at risk of some sort of computer virus infection. So many websites are reported to be infected in some way or another that if you don't protect yourself and make sure you are secure, you could end up putting your computer and all its data at risk extremely quickly.

It may seem that the web is pretty safe, I mean, all you're doing is viewing web pages in the main, but the interactive nature of pages these days means that you can get infected without even knowing it. The pervasive use of JavaScript to inject code into your browser means that someone could send you something just by visiting a page.

Now, the search engines do a pretty good job of monitoring the web and filtering out those sites that hold such exploits, however many web owners don't even understand the risks or even know their pages have been compromised and you may not get there via a search engine - you may just follow a link.

So how can you protect yourself? Well the simplest way to do it is to make sure you have installed and updated your virus killer to the latest version. There are many available these days and luckily, you don't have to fork out a lot of money for them.

For example, if you're using Windows then you can download Microsoft Security Essentials (just search for it on Google and you'll find it). This is an excellent and totally free system from Microsoft that will constantly monitor your computer for infections and will stop any viruses it finds before they get a chance to do any damage.

The great thing about this software is that it is embedded in your operating system (as it's part of Microsoft) and therefore it is easy to use and very light on system resources.

Other solutions, however, will offer even more protection and software from Norton, McAffee and AVG offer tools that can protect you in the following ways:

Protection from Exploits

Hidden code that attempts to download itself to your PC without you knowing. Up-to-date anti-virus software will monitor, uncover and stop this becoming an issue.

Protection from Phishing

Phishing is a huge problem on the Internet and it mostly originates from an email you receive that may be asking for a password or other secure details. For example, you may get an email poporting to come from your bank asking you to log in. What it actually will be doing is taking you to a website that is designed to look like you bank but is actually a phishing site.

When you type in your details, your username and password will be recorded and the site can then store these details to be used by them or sold on to others. Good anti-virus will protect you from such attacks.

Social Engineering

Probably the most problematic to uncover, these are sites that attempt to appeal to your caring site or offer assistance and help when really they're after your data. They could, for example, offer to help by giving you a video to download, but when you download it, you are actually installing a virus or other malware.

Even though software can help keep you protected, you should also keep a look out yourself to make sure you don't fall for these issues by mistake and luckily it's pretty easy if you know what to look for.

For example, never give your username and password to any site that asks for it if you are unsure of the site itself. If you are asked for your bank details by a site other than your bank, this is a warning sign and you should be wary.

Similarly, remember that banks never ask for your details in an email, they understand the risks to your data and will therefore be extremely careful in their correspondence.

If you keep the above in mind whilst surfing, you should stay safe and virus-free!

Andy Calloway is the online marketing director at Calloway Green Ltd, a website design and optimisation company based in Wolverhampton in the UK. Calloway Green take fantastic website design and turn it into a marketable and usable product that will actually make you money. They specialise in Web Design Birmingham for West Midlands based organisations that are looking to sell their products to a wide audience.

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