There was a time where people could simply install an anti-virus on their Windows PC, switch to a Mac or Linux…only to have themselves well protected. Those days are over. With malware finding it way into our mobile lives on the Linux based Android, coming to us on OS X and despite Microsoft’s best efforts, still presenting a problem on Windows.
Starting with software, ending with common sense
I have found most malware issues come from people not following some guidelines of commonsense. The key here is not to allow yourself to think because you have the latest OS or anti-virus installed that you can take no other precautions in keeping yourself safe. This is nonsense. The end user has a responsibility to everyone else on the Web to tap into a little critical thinking to ensure that we’re not seeing malware be spread through their actions.
This includes but is not limited to NOT opening email attachments unless they have their anti-virus cleared to offer safe files for downloading. Don’t install any software from untrusted sources. And if you do, you better be geeky enough to watch out for changes with your HOSTS settings, among other related issues. Don’t click cloaked/shortened URLs in email, Facebook or Twitter. Seriously, this is easily among the top method to infect your computer these days. Avoiding this by itself, would have a huge worldwide impact I believe.
Is your anti-malware doing its job?
Assuming Windows users have enough sense to run something worthwhile such as Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s also worthwhile to make sure something or someone (in your home) hasn’t changed the settings in such a way to make the software stop updating. In addition, you will want to verify that the last scan is showing up timely along with the real time protection being on.
Mac users will want to follow along with this article on OS X security software. As for Linux users, my advice is to follow along with the common sense suggestions above. As for running a security suite, I wouldn’t bother with it just yet. While Android is being hammer with most of the malware threats for the Linux base, the desktops’ biggest threat remains someone asking you to run a malicious script.