Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will I know if my computer is infected?
A: Unfortunately, you likely won't know until something happens. Sometimes it's more obvious, with your computer completely shutting down, but often it's subtle and you won't realize it's infected. If your computer is running slowly or acting strangely, it might be a good idea to take it to an expert for a check up.
Here are a few other clues to watch for:
- Pop-up ads that appear as soon as you turn on your computer
- A homepage that you didn't set comes up when you turn on your computer
- Toolbars you don't recognize and are difficult to remove
- Programs you use all the time are repeatedly crashing
Q: What can I do if my computer is infected?
A: Disconnect from the Internet. This will help keep attackers and viruses away while preventing them from compromising your personal information and files or using your computer to pass it on.
Update your anti-virus software. You will want to do a manual scan of your entire system as soon as possible to locate and remove the infection. Lastly, install all of the appropriate patches to fix any known vulnerabilities to ensure your online safety. Patches (also referred to as an upgrade) can be downloaded directly from the vendor's website.
Q: How do I find out if my computer has enough protection?
A: While most computers come with trial versions of an anti-virus software, a firewall and anti-spy software, after a certain length of time you will need to purchase them or replace them with an alternate software in order to stay protected. Don't ignore updates when prompted on your computer, but make sure they come from your anti-virus software or operating system. If you're not sure, take your computer to an expert and have them install all of the above.
The same goes for your operating system and the browser you use to surf the Internet. The more up-to-date, the better your chances of being protected from current threats.
Q: How can I make sure no one steals my identity?
A: While it's impossible to ensure it will never happen, there are many things you can do to help prevent identity theft. Read all about Identity 101 here and the steps you can take to protect yourself.
Q: Will a cyber criminal really get my information?
A: Even if you don't think you've shared a lot online that would attract a cyber criminal, or you believe you've done enough to protect yourself, Internet security should still be a priority.
Here are some things to consider:
- It isn't personal. Attackers will try to get information from anyone.
- It takes far less time to install the proper anti-virus and anti-spyware software than it does to sort out the problems resulting from identity theft and computer hacking.
- Anti-virus software doesn't mean you're fully protected. You should have anti-spyware installed as well.
- Don't assume that your insurance policy necessarily covers losses due to a computer virus or security incident.
- Viruses don't only come from emails. They can come from infected disks, programs you've installed or right from the Internet from files you have downloaded.
- Your bank or credit card won't always cover losses, unless you can prove the charges are fraudulent. Find out how to do this.
- There is nothing patrolling the Internet to ensure you're kept safe from cyber criminals. All of us need to take personal responsibility for protecting ourselves.
- Do not assume that your Internet service provider is taking steps to protect you. Take the time to find out what services are available to enhance your protection online.
- Any computer or mobile device can be vulnerable, regardless of the type of operating system. Don't make the mistake of feeling invincible.
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