Antivirus – Your Last Line of Defense. By : Mark Grafing

Most people think that the first line of defense is their antivirus, but the fact of the matter is that it's your last. Many viruses can be very damaging and can be used to harvest all types of information, and are usually detected by your AV software and quarantined. But how did it get to the point where your AV software had to react to troublesome situation? Let's look at the Cryptowall virus…it likes to encrypt data on your Hard Drive and any network shares that you have permission to access. Once it strikes, you have two choices, either restore from a last known good backup of your data or pay the ransom to unencrypt the data. What could make it even worse is that you have only a few days to purchase your data or it is lost forever. Given that most people are backing up to a USB drive that typically stays connected, it too is also encrypted. Cryptowall's method of infection is usually an email attachment an end user opens. Once that happens, unplugging the Ethernet cable or disabling the wireless card is the fastest way to stop further infection.

Your first line of defense with most unwanted applications or viruses is the end user themselves. If you follow a few rules of thumb most viruses and unwanted applications can be prevented.

  • Do not open an email attachment that you were not expecting. This includes pictures.
  • Do not open a webpage link you were not expecting, particularly those that are received via e-mail.
  • If you are on a website and a window pops up and says you have a virus and do not click on ANY button

Also take note of the following symptoms:

  • If your computer performance drops dramatically or freezes.
  • New files suddenly appear.
  • Applications no longer open as they once did.

Now these aren't absolute signs that you have a virus, but they are clues that something is amiss. So if you have these symptoms, rebooting can make the issue worse. I recommend running a full Antivirus and Malware scan before trying to remedy the situation. If you are not sure if you have Antivirus, try clicking this link for the EICAR test. If you are able to download the link above, you need Antivirus software immediately. I recommend using Microsoft Security Essentials as it is free with Windows and includes an Anti-Malware application. If you are on Windows 7 or older, click here to download and install. If you are on Windows 8, follow theseinstructions to enable it as it is already a part of the Operating System. I also recommend calling a trusted IT person or company to help you.

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