Viruses and why you shouldn't rely on removal
You may have heard of the recent "WannaCry" ransomware virus on the news. I just wanted to spend a bit of time to educate people on the security flaws in machines and how viruses get on to the machine in the first place. Preventative measures are much better than paying for a removal, as removals always have a risk involved - sometimes it simply isn't possible to undo all the damage a virus does to the operating system and in some cases, your personal data.
So how does a virus get on to my machine?
In most cases it's down to Windows not being up to date or a 3rd party program called a runtime which may have security flaws. Ever wonder why your computer seems to install so many updates but you can't notice any difference? This is because Windows, Java, Adobe Reader, Office, Silverlight, Shockwave Player, Flash and many more programs have security flaws which hackers and virus programmers exploit. As soon as an exploit is found, the owners of the companies release an update. If you have a machine that isn't up to date, this doesn't necessarily mean you will get a virus however; a virus needs to be downloaded and run on your machine first. A few of the most common ways viruses actually get on to your system are as follows:
Fake program downloaded by user - there are so many fake links on the internet to sometimes legitimate software, but somebody has chosen to bundle a virus in with the download.
Browsing untrusted websites - Pornography, pirated software, video streaming links and "free music" sites are all to be untrusted. If you do browse these websites, always have suitable protection and never click the ads! They make the actual "download" or "play now" buttons look real, so you may be tempted to click. Some websites just have the content there as bait for you to click their ads and run their "software" which is actually a virus.
Pirated software - We understand, there's always a temptation to save money, especially when some software can cost hundreds! Please be educated of the risks, in order to pirate the software, someone has had to modify it. As well as modifying it to make it "free", what else have they modified? They can possibly snoop on your data or worse, install a ransomware virus. It really isn't worth the risk.
So how can I prevent it?
You can't always prevent 100% of threats, the programmer of the virus is first to exploit a known security issue in a piece of software. Only after this is found do developers of the software then provide an update - it's always a game of cat and mouse! Though of course you should do all that you can in order to prevent it:
Install Antivirus Software - We recommend Panda Free antivirus if you really don't want to pay, though we always supply and install Emsisoft Antimalware which does a really good job of keeping you protected. This is available via a yearly subscription or via one of our managed service plans.
Update 3rd Party Apps - We recommend using a website called Ninite.com, it allows you to pick from a list of programs and update them all with the run of a batch program. Some programs such as Adobe flash player are no longer available through Ninite Free edition, so you will either need to pay or update them separately. We can do this for you as part of our managed service plans.
Install Windows Updates - Ensure your Windows updates are actually running, they may be failing to install without your knowledge! We can monitor and ensure you computer(s) are up to date via our managed service plans.
Keep a Backup - If all else fails, you would want to be able to restore your files from a backup. Either use an external hard drive for a simple method of storage or purchase our cloud backup solution which is monitored by us and automatically keeps your files up to date without you needing to worry.
Buy a Managed Service Plan - We are a managed service provider, this means we take the hassle out of your IT and let you get back to being productive instead of worrying about the maintenance of your computer. Plans start from £5 a month and are available to view on our managed IT solutions page.
I hope I've helped explain how important it is to protect your machine(s), as ransomware is a real threat. I feel people should be made aware that their important information can become encrypted and inaccessible and the viruses do not discriminate. Whether you're a large organisation like the NHS, a small business or a residential user - everybody should keep their data safe and the computer they use as secure as possible.