Reducing your risk of infection
- When you install a program – ANY program – look carefully to see if it’s installing other things as well. Typically you’ll get asked to install a “search assistant”, toolbar, helper, codec, etc. ALWAYS select no; the author (who you presumably trust enough to install their program) has no control over the activity of the 3rd party “piggyback” installation.
- Check online to see if the program you’re installing has a reputation for malware/spyware. Search for the program’s name with “Spyware” or “malware” after it – you will always find matches, look to see if there is a reputation for quietly installing malware with that particular program
- Don’t install programs from “dodgy” sources; even if it seems legitimate or you were told that it is safe it often is not. This is a huge risk for programs that have been obtained illegally, e.g. bought on CDs at flea markets, etc.
- If you go to a site that contains a video clip that you “have to download a player” to watch – don’t do it. Most legitimate video clips are able to be played with the media players already on your system or with well respected and known media programs. So-called ‘Special codec packs” and “players” are usually fronts for malicious spyware.
- If a site demands that you install a toolbar or program to continue – leave it immediately.
- Some sites offer toolbars and “assistant” apps – I tend to avoid these even if they are legitimate as you have little or no control over them
- Re-scan your system frequently – at least with one or two of the major scanners. I recommend scanning with ADWCleaner and Malware Bytes every couple of weeks just to be sure
- Run a “cleaner” program to clean out temporary files and rubbish from your system. An excellent freeware one is CCleaner (Crap Cleaner) – www.ccleaner.com (directs to http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner). This improves system performance and also reduces risks associated with some types of malware that may have been downloaded but isn’t yet “active”
Remember – if you’re unsure ALWAYS SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP. The risks with these types of programs and criminal activity associated with them is sharply on the rise; it now exceeds traditional crime in many countries and the damage of identity theft, etc. can last for many years.
For a bit more background on what Malware is, continue below.