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I thought the flu virus was bad news.  It is, of course, but 2016 is turning into the year of the viruses for our computers — that and ‘malware’, ‘trojans’ and who knows what.  I haven’t been able to find the perfect vaccination for computers yet, but got a few suggestions from the nerds.

The strongest suggestion was “Don’t do nothing!”

That seems to be technical speak for getting as much of the following done as is possible–right now!

Make sure your browser(s) are updated with the latest security patches.

Install an up-to-date virus and/or security program on your computer if you haven’t already.  If you have a virus program that hasn’t been updated recently, shame on you.

Take the following suggestions to heart.  Following them can save you a world of grief.

  • Do not open attachments unless they are expected and come from a known and trusted source, and do not execute software that is downloaded from the Internet unless the download has been scanned for viruses;
  • Be cautious when clicking on links or web addresses in emails or social media programs, even when coming from trusted sources and friends;
  • Do not click on shortened web addresses and links without previewing or expanding them first using available tools and plug-ins (links can say one thing visibly but the actual link may take you somewhere else);
  • Be cautious of information you provide on social networking solutions that could be used to target you in an attack or trick you to open malicious web addresses or attachments (that link to ‘cute kitties’ might take your friends to something that’s not so amusing);
  • Be suspicious of search engine results and only click through to trusted sources when conducting searches—especially on topics that are hot in the media;
  • Only download software directly from the vendor’s Web site (Note: when you are installing what apparently is a safe utility or program, watch out for almost invisible checkmarks that commit you to also installing some other program like “toolbars” or “free stuff”.  They may be unwelcome and as hard to get rid of as a visiting relative);
  • If you see a warning indicating you are “infected” after clicking on a URL or using a search engine (fake antivirus infections), close or quit the browser using Alt-F4, CTRL+W or the task manager.
  • Make sure you are using a modern browser and operating system and keep your systems current with security updates.
  • Look for your anti-virus and/or security software icons on search results links.

Remember, to quote a famous ancestor: “There is no free lunch”.  If something is offered as ‘free’ figure out what you are paying before accepting it.  For instance on your right is an offer for a Free Website Audit or Grader.  When you sign up for it you get a very valuable report, but you are required to register for an email list we maintain.  We provide great information on the mailing list which is a benefit to you, and the benefit to us is that when people know what we do through our emails, they sometimes do business with us.  So “Free” can be great, but know what the cost really is.