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Staying Safe From Malware on the Internet

Published: 09/19/2011 by John Hogan

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When it comes to malware, you can normally avoid installing any rogue applications by practicing safe browsing on the Internet. No guarantees, but if you follow these simple steps, you should be able to avoid most malware threats on the web.

Know what you’re installing!

Common examples of software that carry malware infections are instant messenger add-on packs, screensavers, games and search tools. Before downloading any file onto your PC – ask these questions:

  • Do you trust the source of file? Avoid downloading software without visiting the site first. If possible, download software from large sites like microsoft.com or download.com that are certified to be malware free.
  • Google the software title before you download it - if other people have been infected by it, you can be sure that there will be articles about it on the Internet!
  • Be wary of any offers that are 'too good to be true'. Believe me: these offers always are.
  • Be wary of 'short' URLs that redirect you to an unknown site. If the download link doesn’t give the web address – don’t click it!

Whoa! Don't Click 'Accept' Yet!

We're all been guilty of not reading that End User License Agreement (EULA) and just clicking the "accept" button. But malware developers are fully aware of this and often include language that protect them from legal action by telling you that you are downloading a virus, adware or other malicious software by installing their 'free' application.

The number one rule is simple. Read the fine print before you accept. Pay particular note of any phrases that indicates that by downloading the software you authorize transmission of data to a third party.

Install Anti-Malware Software

At PC Answers we use a combination of programs on customer’s computers but a good free program is Malwarebytes (www.malwarebytes.com) They also offer a paid upgrade that will automatically update, scan and monitor for rogue software. The upgrade is worth the $24.95 if you do a lot of random web searching.

Be Cautious and Stay Safe.

Malware infection is incredibly wide spread. Even though malware can be dangerous, it should not prevent you doing what you want to do on the Internet. Think about you safety BEFORE downloading the “cool” new program or screensaver. Research the program name on Google and take the time to read the fine print and you can greatly reduce your chances of being infected.