Following the publication of the latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report, a software security expert gives his top tips for keeping your computer safe.
The Microsoft report had shared that software activation key generators (or Keygens) are the single biggest threat to computer security at the moment.
While the easiest way to protect yourself is to avoid these keygens, what about other common virus and malware threats and vulnerabilities in plug-ins such as Adobe Flash Player and Java?
Christopher Boyd, senior threat researcher at GFI Software gives his advice and tips for safe surfing and computer use.
Read expert advice from Boyd and the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report to find out about the six things you should know to keep your computer and smartphone virus-freee
1. Don't use key generators
A favorite tool of people who use copied or pirated software, Keygens generate a license or key code that will activate and authenticate a duplicated application. However Microsoft has discovered that more and more of these seemingly harmless programs are being used to hide and deliver malware to users' computers. Therefore the easiest way to protect yourself is to not use them.
2. Update your operating system and antivirus programs regularly
You should always follow some golden rules: keeping your operating system and antivirus definitions updated will go a long way to keeping them safe. Owners of mobile devices should set installed applications to update automatically, and check the settings options to see if the operating system also needs updating.
3. Kill pop-up windows with antivirus browser extensions
There are also a variety of browser extensions such as AdBlock Plus, NoScript and Ghostery which will prevent advertisers from tracking you and also reduce the possibility of a malicious script / pop-up executing inside browser windows.
4. Add a "+" to your bit.ly links
If you're unsure of bit.ly links on a Twitter post, you can add a "+" at the end of the bit.ly URL to see the stats page for the link — which will reveal the full URL and potentially help you avoid an obviously spammy link.
5. Avoid online surveys
Online surveys are a popular scam, usually as a form of bait to convince you to fill in offers and sign up to expensive ringtone services. Whatever they're offering in return for filling out these surveys is most likely an empty promise. On a related note, beware of fake applications that spam contacts on both Facebook and Tumblr — a key giveaway is that they'll ask you to fill in surveys to "unlock" something.
6. Be wary of "rogue links" in chat windows
Rogue links are still a popular scam tactic in IM and P2P chat programs — most commonly, messages asking if you've seen a video or heard what "someone is saying about you." If in doubt, always try to confirm the sender actually did send you that clickable link.