Ultimate Protection Against Malware: Microsoft Might Have a Clue
We’ve posted the guidance how to stay safe online and avoid ransom – and other malwares. But, still we feel like we should go into more detail in order to explain you some basic principles , like back up the safety requirements, and the antivirus updates. This should be of particular interest to the Windows users, but the Mac users have faced the same threats recently, (albeit on a lesser scale) and might find it useful to have a look at the core of the issues as well.
It’s not because we’re paid by antivirus tycoons, no. The inherent nature of this software is the answer. Let’s first specify what malware is. Obviously, it’s a malicious software – hence, ‘malware’ – that cripples your files, data and operation system. Some are inoffensive enough: they change your browser start page to reroute you to news aggregators or online stores. It’s annoying, but does no real harm to the system.
Others attempt to steal your credentials, personal, financial info or to provide an access to your computer for further attacks. These are worms, backdoors and trojans, the last called so because they’re disguised as inoffensive software. The malfunction of the system is a side effect of their activity. There are also viruses created to annoy the user. Like Friday’13 that was infamous back in 1990s.
The virus used to activate on Fridays, the 13th and blocked the computer with an alert screen. Ransomware like WannaCry and others, are similar to that old virus: they block the access of an end-user to the system with an alert screen. But, unlike the Friday the 13th, the ransomware creators ask for ransom. And there’s more to it than just an annoying pop-up screen: the malware encrypts the files, renaming them during the process and deletes the non-encrypted versions of the user’s files.
So, an antivirus software usually features two approaches. First, it watches after the already known threats and analyses the files behavior to calculate the possible threat. How does the virus recognize a virus? You must know that most viruses and trojans are alike and feature the same code patterns. The security experts list them into large libraries, any antivirus should download on a regular basis. The recognizable code patterns are called signatures. It’s like the U.S. most wanted criminals’ database. That’s why we, like many prominent security experts, advise regular updates of your antivirus software. Never turn off the automated database or program update! Never!
But, spotting the malware by signatures is not always effective enough. Thousands of new viruses hit the Web every week. Created by culprits, or unexperienced students, by misanthropes and people with a pervert sense of humor, they don’t stop emerging. And you’d never have seen them coming, had the antiviruses been unable to predict the malware behavior. Turning to the cops-and-robbers metaphor again, a good cop can tell a criminal by his or her behavior, the way he or she moves, speaks and acts. For example, if a program on your PC tries to connect to a suspicious website, your antivirus will alert you at once or even kill the software without asking.
The problem is, that in the computer world, there are a lot of false positives. The antivirus can kill your favorite mailing program or a casual game. To avoid it, please turn on the ‘Ask me for actions’ option. Your antivirus should always ask you before it does something to the ‘suspect’. If you don’t recognize the file’s name, google it. Then you’ll be taken either to the manufacturer’s
or to the online virus database like, www.viruslist.com or www.securelist.com.
Watching for files behavior is called proactive protection, or heuristic analysis. This feature is a must-have for every antivirus program nowadays. Check if this option is on in your software. The antivirus scans not only your hard drive(s) but also the internet ports through which the data flows in. It’s called ‘listen on the port’. Of course, the antivirus has to share the port with other software on your PC, like mailing programs and browsers, or you won’t be able to get an access to the Web. That’s why malwares are able to sneak in, so you should run a full system scan on regular basis.
All antiviruses can be scheduled for full scan weekly, daily or hourly. There’s also a quick scan that takes up less resources of your system while running. We recommend one full scan and two quick scans a week. You can schedule a full scan during nighttime, but remember to turn off the sound alerts for you don’t wake up!
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