Times have changed, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean attempts to hack your computer are gone. While computer security has gotten stronger in the past decade, so have viruses, spyware, and trojans. Even though you have never tried to download spyware, chances are you’ve had your search engine changed once or twice, or had too many search bars at the top of the screen. If you’re not sure about how this kind of thing happens, reading on might be a good idea.
Make Sure You Know What You’re Downloading
Looking for a new background for your laptop, or maybe an entertaining screen saver? While there are lots of legitimate sources out there for this type of thing, a lot of the first “hit” sites on places like Google and Bing have some sort of tracking program that comes with every download. Sometimes it’s a sponsor, like ask.com, that packages a tool bar or search engine change with your download, and unless you know where to look, you’ll accidentally download something much bigger than just a nice wallpaper.
When you visit websites that require you to download something to your computer, or you’d like to install a new program that you’ve never installed before, make sure to check the “advanced” area. Sometimes the advanced area is something as simple as a few checked boxes for extra installations, and all you have to do is uncheck them before you download.
Beware of the Word “Free”
There are legitimate free websites for just about anything, but including the word “free” in your search can often bring up spam sites before anything else. For example, Googling “free pictures” or “free virus protection” sometimes brings up programs that will either cost you money (after something of a free trial) or will include bundled adware. Make sure you do your research before clicking on any link you see in Google that has “free” attached to it – a good antivirus program can verify if the site is safe or not, and another Google search can show you if anyone has had any issues in the past.
In the end, it’s about using your common sense as a business owner and making sure you always check and recheck anything you choose to install on a personal or business computer.