Maintaining a healthy computer

Welcome to the first blog of Parks West’s Electronics department. For this first blog I would like to talk about one of the most asked about topics that I deal with on a daily basis; Computer viruses. Most people use a computer every day but know very little about how to maintain and protect their devices. In many ways computers are like cars in that they need servicing from time to time however this is something that many people put off until something goes wrong.

It is very important to keep your computer updated. Microsoft releases updates every week, a large portion of these updates relate to security. I’m often told that it can be a nuisance that windows wants to update all the time but these updates are vital to keep your computer healthy and safe from malicious software. I recommend keeping the updates set to automatically update. With Windows 10 the updates are usually scheduled for a quieter time based on your regular usage of the computer.

The next most important aspect of computer safety is using a good antivirus program, such as Kaspersky Antivirus, to keep your computer free from viruses. A virus is a program designed to replicate itself and transmit to other computers whilst causing damage and potentially transmitting important information back to its creator. An antivirus program also needs to be updated regularly as there are nearly a million new viruses discovered every day. It is because of the need for constant updating that most worthwhile security suites require yearly renewal. We are regularly checking the independent security sites to keep the most effective programs in stock.

One term that you may have heard of is “Malware”. Malware is a blanket term that covers all forms of malicious software including viruses. Other common types of malware are:

Adware: This is a form of advertising that is designed to generate revenue for the creator of the software. This can be quite mild and unobtrusive through to the other extreme that can cause performance problems and even get to the point where you cannot use your computer due to too many adverts popping up.

Spyware: Essentially this is software that tracks your activity on the internet. This will often work in the background with the user unaware that it is even there. Its purpose is to report information back to the author such as passwords or banking information.

Trojans: Named after the mythical Greek horse, this software tricks the user into thinking it is a safe piece of software that, much like spyware, is designed to send information back to the creator. The key difference is that a Trojan allows the hacker to enter your computer at any time to access any information or to completely take over your system.

Ransomware: Ransomware has become a lot more prevalent in the last year or two. What this software does is encrypt your files, such as pictures and documents, making them unusable. This malware will then give you an amount you have to pay in order decrypt your files, essentially holding your files to ransom.

The last thing I would recommend is using common sense when browsing the internet. A good rule of thumb is the more adverts a site has the more potentially dangerous it is. Finally another good tip is to be wary of anything purportedly free that is normally something you have to pay for; follow the old adage if it seems too good to be true it probably is