Recently a group in Eastern Europe has been arrested for infecting computers with malware that will redirect web traffic to fake websites setup to run ads. Unlike malware in the past, the software doesn't steal your personal information but simply run on the background and redirect your traffic the websites that are aimed at generating ad revenue. The software also stave off security updates for antivirus softwares, which makes it very difficult to detect. FBI has put up a support page with steps to check your own computer and removing the malware if you are infected. Meanwhile check out some ways you can avoid getting infected.
Develop good web browsing habit. Most of us probably spend 90% of our computer time on the web, so it is an obvious target for those looking to infect your computer. The best way to make sure you don't get a virus is prevention. And having a good web browsing habit is the best prevention. Besides the obvious of never click on links that you don't trust, don't install software unless you explicitly requested for it, also be on the lookout for pop-ups. The safest way to close a pop-up or avoid a notification is to use your keyboard shortcuts (Alt+F4 for PC or ⌘+W for Macs) or use your task manager/force close function to close the window. Try not to click anything in a pop-up, even the X on the top corner.
Watch out for your emails. The most obvious thing here is never to click on spam. But even emails from those you trust can be dangerous. Perhaps you have a friend or a family member who is less aware of computer security than you, and they've unintentionally sent you a link or file that's been infected. Also watch out for irregularity from your regular contacts, accounts can be hacked to send out rogue emails intended to infect your computer.
Be careful what you're installing. When going through the installation process of any software, be aware of what you're clicking "Yes" for. Read through the installation process carefully, and make sure that no additional software is being installed onto your computer. Many software often install crapware that will slow your computer down or even worse, malware that will take advantage of your trust.
Keep your software updated. Official updates for both your OS and browser often fix security loopholes or bugs that existed in the previous version. Take advantage of pop-up blocking features and trusted add-ons to boost the security of your software.
Use a legitimate antivirus software. Make sure you're running a security software from a trusted source. Keep it turned on, keep it updated, schedule regular scans. But keep in mind, the principle of more is better does not apply to antivirus softwares, if you have multiple security softwares installed they may interfere with each other, one is all you need. Check out some of our suggestions for security software, and even free ones!
Set up a firewall. Both Windows and OSX come with firewall settings built-in to prevent unauthorized access to your computer. Firewall is the first line of defense for your computer when it's connected to the web. Depending on your setting, it will monitor every attempt to access your computer and make sure you are aware of it before anything comes through the web. If you've already got a firewall set up, check out some of our suggestions for setting up network monitors.
Don't share files. Illegal file sharing is not only morally wrong, it could be dangerous as well. With illegal fire sharing so rampant, it is one of the major source of virus and malware. Beware of physical file sharing as well, like our email tips, you should be suspicious of the source of the files that you're getting from you family and friends. Just because you got it on a flash drive doesn't mean that it is safe.
Check out our other tips for boosting security of your computer:
Do you have any tips and tricks that we didn't cover? Feel free to let us know in the comments below!