Is it December already? That can mean only one thing:…
Want to protect your PC from viruses and other malware, without spending a big chunk of money on security software?
First, grab Bitdefender Antivirus Free Edition. You wouldn’t think a free utility would offer much in the way of protection, but earlier this week, the folks over at PC Gamer ranked it the top free antivirus software for PC. And last year, PC Mag rated it four stars and similarly ranked it among the best in its class.
Second, upgrade to Your Brain 2.0. Because, quite frankly, most security breaches are avoidable–and your fault. (I know: harsh!) Thankfully, with a little education, you can learn to steer clear of the Internet’s most common (and dangerous) threats: fake security alerts and phishing e-mails.
Let’s start with the former. Out of the blue, a pop-up window warns you of newly discovered security threats on your computer–and offers to help you remove them.
The window looks like an honest-to-goodness security program (if not an alert from Windows proper), and all it wants to do is scan your PC or “block the attack”–so you go ahead and click OK.
Guess what: you’ve been had. That genuine-looking pop-up was a fake, and by clicking it you opened the door to malware infections and, potentially, stolen personal info. Fortunately, it’s not hard to spot fake security programs–you just have to know what to look for.
For one thing, if you already have a security program installed on your PC–Bitdefender, for example!–and the pop-up has a generic name like Spyware Defense 2014, you know it’s a fake. Only the Bitdefender product should be issuing alerts.
Other telltale signs include poor grammar or spelling, or alerts that seem out of place. Same goes for phishing e-mails, which try to get you to click fraudulent (but authentic-looking) links through scare tactics. “You’re account has been compramised!” (Phishermen are usually terrible spellers.) Don’t take the bait.
Alas, users get taken by these fake security programs all the time. After it runs a “scan” on your system (and finds all kinds of infections, natch), the program asks for a credit card number so you can buy the full version, which is “required” to rid your system of all that nasty malware.
Don’t fall for this. Treat all pop-up security alerts and suspicious e-mail with, well, suspicion. Keep your browser and operating system up to date, and choose a reliable security program for your PC. Bitdefender is one solid option; another is Avast! Free Antivirus.