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Cyber Security

Protecting Against Viruses and Spyware

The following measures can help protect your computer from viruses and spyware:

  • Keep your computer up to date with the latest hardware and software firewalls, and anti-virus and anti-spyware software. The latter counters programs that secretly record what you type and send the information to the thieves. They are often installed when you visit websites from links in e-mail. This also applies to multi-function printers, fax machines, and copiers that can be accessed using a web browser.
  • Use security software that updates automatically. Visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov for more information.
  • Do not buy "anti-spyware" software in response to unexpected pop-ups or e-mails, especially ones that claim to have scanned your computer and detected malicious software.
  • Do not respond in any way to a telephone or e-mail warning that your computer has a virus even if it appears to come from an anti-virus software provider like Microsoft, Norton, or McAfee. "Helpful hackers" use this ploy to get you to download their software to fix the virus or sell you computer monitoring or security services to give them remote access to your computer so they can steal your passwords, online accounts, and other personal information. If you already have anti-virus software on your computer you'll receive a security update or warning directly on your computer.
  • Use the latest versions of Internet browsers, e.g., Microsoft Internet Explorer 8, which is designed to prevent phishing attacks. Use Explorer in the "protected mode," which restricts the installation of files without the user's consent, and set the "Internet zone security" to high. That disables some of Explorer's less-secure features. And set your operating system and browser software to automatically download and install security patches.
  • Do not install files or programs from CDs or flash drives before checking them for viruses.
  • Scan demo disks from vendors, shareware, or freeware sources for viruses.
  • Avoid using electronic bulletin boards.
  • Do not download files from unknown sources.
  • Do not allow any website to install software on your computers.
  • Scan downloaded files for viruses. Avoid downloading executable files.
  • Businesses should obtain copies of your anti-virus software for your employees' home computers if your employees do some business work at home. Also ensure that your employees' home computers are protected by hardware and software firewalls between their system(s) and the Internet.