If you own a computer, you probably have antivirus protection. And because you have that software installed, you probably think you are safe from viruses, ransomware, phishing, identity theft and all of the other bad things that can come from the internet. You might even do some things online that might not be totally safe, because you are covered… right?
The good news is that your antivirus security software will keep your computer and personal information safe from most of the worst dangers. That doesn’t mean, though, that you don’t have to remain vigilant and stay on top of things when it comes to securing your devices. In fact, there’s a good chance that you’re making mistakes that are putting you at risk without even realizing it. If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to make some changes to protect yourself and your computer from the dangers lurking online.
Mistake #1: Not Having Enough Protection – Or Any Protection at All
“Macs don’t get viruses – I don’t need antivirus.” “Oh, my antivirus will catch anything. I don’t need to worry.”
One of the biggest mistakes when it comes to antivirus protection is making assumptions about what you’re at risk for and how well you are covered. The truth is, everyone needs antivirus protection, even if you have a Mac. While Macs do tend to be less vulnerable to viruses than other computers, they are not impervious, and they can become infected. And even if you don’t get a virus, you could still be vulnerable to phishing or attacks on your social media. Bottom line? Everyone needs antivirus protection, regardless of what kind of computer they use.
And remember, not all antivirus is created equal. Free programs that come pre-installed on your computer might provide some level of protection against known threats, but it’s not nearly as robust as a complete internet security program. Depending on how you use your machine, you may need different types of protection, so compare your options and choose the one that provides the highest level of protection for how you use your machine. Look for programs that not only block viruses, but protect your email, social media, and mobile devices as well.
Mistake #2: Not Staying On Top of Updates
Although most quality antivirus programs will automatically update with the latest virus and malware signatures and continuously scan for problems, you still need to regularly check on your settings to make sure that you are protected. In fact, some free programs downloaded from the internet require users to specifically update the program in order to work, you can’t assume that you’re always protected.
It’s not only updates to your virus protection that matter, though. They might seem annoying, but the updates to your operating system and programs are vital to keeping your machine safe. Cybercriminals often exploit vulnerabilities in software, and those updates and patches close the loopholes that let them in. Ignoring them makes it more likely that you’ll be attacked and reduces the effectiveness of your antivirus software. In short, you need to do your part, so the antivirus protection works the way it should.
Mistake #3: Assuming You Will Know if Your Computer Has a Virus
Sometimes, it’s obvious that you have a virus. However, not every computer issue is a virus – and not all malware is obvious. Some malware will run quietly in the background, wreaking havoc without you even realizing it. All malware is different; some viruses will destroy your operating system or steal your information, while others will simply spread annoying ads or spam. To the average user, it’s almost impossible to know what type you will encounter, so it’s best to just use antivirus software and avoid them.
Mistake #4: Relying on Good Behavior
How many times have you thought “I don’t do anything risky … do I really need all of this protection?” The short answer is yes, you do. Even if you never visit “bad” or risky websites, avoid opening attachments, and have your social media pages locked down, you’re still at risk. Remember that criminals are sophisticated and tricky, and they are always looking for new ways to spread their malware, and it doesn’t always matter how safe you try to be. Your good habits might keep you safe from most online risks, but antivirus protection will block the ones you don’t expect.
At the end of the day, anyone who uses the internet is vulnerable to viruses. By not making these mistakes, though, and using the best protection possible, you won’t have to deal with the consequences of malware and will keep your computer running smoothly.