Back to Courier Columns Page

by JB Burke

Q. I hear about all the viruses and worms that attack people’s computers. What can I do to protect my new computer?

A. There are three steps that you MUST take in order to minimize the likelihood of computer disasters. First, be sure there is a good anti-virus installed and that it is running and being updated at least every day. Many rely on what comes preloaded with their computer, usually a short trial of McAfee or Norton, after which you must begin paying annually, or the updates stop. The virus definitions list that every anti-virus program uses must update daily.

We suggest uninstalling the trial anti-virus software before the end of the trial period, and installing a good free anti-virus, such as Avast. Avast will update automatically at least once, and usually more than once per day. Second, have a good anti-malware program installed and ready to use when needed. A good bet for this program is Malwarebytes, which will "detect and remove all traces of malware including worms, trojans, rootkits, rogues, dialers, spyware and more".

Malware will make your system act odd – redirecting browsers to the wrong site, changing your home page, hijacking your web searches. If this happens, start Malwarebytes, and be sure to update it before running. The latest definitions need to be available to be sure it finds the problem. If Malwarebytes won't update, see an expert.

The third thing you should do is to setup a good backup strategy for your computer. To implement a backup I suggest that you purchase an external USB connected hard drive. Then install a good backup program, such as Acronis True Image, and set it up to do a backup of your hard drive, automatically, at least weekly. If disaster strikes you can do a complete reload of the latest backup, or simply reload a single file or two that may have been lost.

Published: Courier 4/21/13 - Page 3C