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Viruses and Malware continued Anti-virus and Malware continued Our computers already have anti-virus software installed on them.  It is from Microsoft and it is called Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE).  If is free and will continue to be free as long as Windows 7 is supported.  No anti-virus is perfect and the most common way to have a problem with viruses is to give the virus ‘permission’ to install itself on your computer.  The single most important thing that you can do to protect your important photos, documents and music is to make sure that you have backed them up to another hard drive or in the cloud.  Windows 7 can be reinstalled but if you can’t get to your important documents it is a much bigger problem. Prevent Malware With Smart Online Behavior The single biggest factor in preventing a malware infection on your PC is you. You don't need expert knowledge or special training. You just need vigilance to avoid downloading and installing anything you do not understand or trust, no matter how tempting, from the following sources: From a website: If you are unsure, leave the site and research the software you are being asked to install. If it is OK, you can always come back to site and install it. If it is not OK, you will avoid a malware headache. From e-mail: Do not trust anything associated with a spam e-mail. Approach e-mail from people you know with caution when the message contains links or attachments. If you are suspicious of what you are being asked to view or install, don't do it. From a pop-up window: Some pop-up windows or boxes will attempt to corner you into downloading software or accepting a free "system scan" of some type. Often these pop-ups will employ scare tactics to make you believe you need what they are offering in order to be safe. Close the pop-up without clicking anything inside it (including the X in the corner). Close the window via Windows Task Manager (press Ctrl-Alt-Delete). From another piece of software: Some programs attempt to install malware as a part of their own installation process. When installing software, pay close attention to the message boxes before clicking Next, OK, or I Agree. Scan the user agreement for anything that suggests malware may be a part of the installation. If you are unsure, cancel the installation, check up on the program, and run the installation again if you determine it is safe. From illegal file-sharing services: You're on your own if you enter this realm. There is little quality control in the world of illegal software, and it is easy for an attacker to name a piece of malware after a popular movie, album, or program to tempt you into downloading it. Minimize your chances of becoming infected with malware: Malware is designed to sneak onto your computer in ways you can't possibly foresee.  If you choose to install software which you did not pay for make sure that you read every screen during the installation process to make sure you are not agreeing to install something other than the software itself. Make sure Windows 7 is updated when you see the notifications. Use Windows Update to automatically download and install updates.  Your computer is already set up to notify you of new updates and install them.  You will see a small icon in the bottom right corner of your screen when there are updates ready to install. No matter which browser you use, keeping it current is vital to preventing infection. Take advantage of your browser's pop-up blocking, download screening, and automatic update features. Keep your anti-virus program updated, turned on, and schedule a scan to run at least once a month. (Don't run two anti-virus programs; they will interfere with one another and you won’t be any better protected.) Your Windows 7 operating system has a built in firewall and it is turned on by default.  A firewall is a set of rules that chooses which information can access your PC. It can help prevent malware infections by stopping suspicious programs from getting onto your PC, or accessing the internet once installed. If your e-mail program is not adequately filtering spam from your in-box, consider changing email providers or additional spam filtering software. Email providers vary widely in their spam filtering capabilities. MSE will let you know when it is time to do a scan of your computer looking for viruses and malware.  The little green icon that looks like a house will turn orange and have an exclamation mark in the middle.  That means it needs your attention and wants to scan your computer.  Click on the orange icon and then open it to perform the scan.  If at any time you see the icon become red with an X in it that is a sign that it needs immediate attention.
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