Best Practices for Avoiding Computer Viruses at the Office
Nobody wants to deal with a virus — neither the kind that affects your physical health nor the kind that affects your computer. Just as the virus that hits your body can derail you and put you out of commission for days or even weeks, a computer virus can do the same thing. And for some reason, it always seems as if they strike at the most inopportune times, don’t they? That is, the times when you need to be your most productive.
But you take steps to protect yourself from viruses that can affect your physical health. You get plenty of vitamin C, you wash your hands, you get plenty of sleep, and you try to keep your distance from people who are sick.
It’s the same way with computer viruses. By taking the proper precautions, many of which don’t require much more hassle than a few minutes a week or the use of some commonsense, you can protect your computer from being infected with something that could derail your productivity.
What is a computer virus anyway?
By definition, a computer virus is any kind of software program that gets transmitted to a computer and messes up the way that it works. It might corrupt some of your stored data or delete it completely. Sometimes the effects of a virus can be simply annoying in the way they slow your computer down or cause it to act strange. In other situations, they might be malicious and cause your computer to crash or your security to become compromised.
But here’s the important thing to remember — this virus always gets into your computer from another computer out there in the world — so you know it’s coming to you via the internet or an infected external drive.
Therefore, it’s important to be cautious whenever you’re accepting anything coming to you from another computer.
- Accept files from only people whom you know and trust. This includes situations when you receive an attachment in an email or when you’re downloading something off a flash drive. Be careful of any file sharing with strangers, such as media downloads off a public platform. These are usually infected with some kind of virus.
- Create a secure network within your office that can be accessed only by people within your company or trusted guests, such as clients or partnering businesses. If your network is connected via WiFi, make sure you secure it with a strong password, and do not share the password with more people than necessary.
- Be careful about using public WiFi. Although it is sometimes necessary, such as on those mornings when you’re trying to fire off a few emails from the coffeeshop before a meeting, you should be judicious in the times that you do this.
- Avoid clicking on any unknown links or any links that direct you to suspicious websites. Some infected websites are better at disguising themselves than others; however, if you think that a website you’ve landed on is nefarious, you’re probably right. If a website ever tells you that you must close out of its window by clicking a “Click Here” button, don’t fall for this trick — always close out of a website by clicking the X in the upper right corner of your browser.
- Make sure you have strong antivirus software on your computer and you keep it updated. Most computers come with some kind of antivirus software already installed, but you can buy premium software if you so choose. It’s important to keep any virus software up to date, as viruses are constantly being developed, so antivirus software must be updated to keep up with the latest viruses that pose a threat. An outdated antivirus software leaves your computer vulnerable to newly developed threats.