Computer Health: Understanding the Risks

There are risks with almost everything we do. Whether we are driving a car, crossing a busy street, going on vacation to Hawaii, or investing money in real estate, we expect the rewards to ideally outweigh the risks. However, to increase our odds for success, most of us spend time educating ourselves and initiating ways to achieve a favorable outcome. This same principle is also true when using our computer and other electronic devices with the internet. There are risks that can be remedied with proper understanding and maintenance. In other words, don’t give up on technology. Just start learning how to use it wisely.

What are the signs of an unhealthy or infected computer?
Your computer is mostly likely infected when…

  1. It runs slowly, freezes, or crashes.
  2. It sends emails to people in your address book without your knowledge or permission.
  3. You start receiving a lot of returned, bounced back emails, or spam emails.
  4. Your web browser’s home page has been changed to another site without your approval, or you see a strange new toolbar in your web browser.
  5. When you perform a web search and end up at some unrelated site.
  6. You get unexpected pop-up windows onscreen.
  7. You see one or more unsolicited new sites in the favorites or bookmarks section of your web browser.

What causes your computer to become infected?
Whenever your computer is connected to the internet, it runs the risk of becoming infected with all sorts of nasty stuff that can affect its overall performance. The most prominent types of infections including the following:

  • A Virus: A computer virus attaches itself to a program or file enabling it to spread from one computer to another, leaving infections as it travels. Like a human virus, a computer virus can range in severity: some may cause only mildly annoying effects while others can damage your hardware, software or files.
  • A Worm: A worm is similar to a virus by design and is considered to be a sub-class of a virus. Worms spread from computer to computer, but unlike a virus, it has the capability to travel without any human action. A worm takes advantage of file or information transport features on your system, which is what allows it to travel unaided.
  • A Trojan: A Trojan Horse is a particular kind of virus that is designed to steal your personal information. Those on the receiving end of a Trojan Horse are usually tricked into opening them because they appear to be receiving legitimate software or files from a legitimate source. When a Trojan is activated on your computer, the results can vary. Some Trojans are designed to be more annoying than malicious (like changing your desktop, adding silly active desktop icons) or they can cause serious damage by deleting files and destroying information on your system.
  • Spyware: Spyware enters your computer and “spies” on what you’re doing. It does this by, for example, logging the keys you type and thereby sealing your passwords and other personal information.

How can you protect your computer from becoming infected?
There are clear and easy ways for you to protect your computer along with the security of your personal and confidential information. To learn how, CLICK HERE.

Source: Reader’s Digest: How to Do (Just About) Anything on the Internet, My Internet for Seniors