Computers are just like us. They can also get infected by viruses, which in turn can affect their function. Nevertheless, it is important to know that the extent of damage a virus or malware can inflict depends on what it targets. For example, there are malware and viruses that can steal sensitive information, slow down the performance of your unit, spam your email contacts, delete some or all of your files, make your system crash, or even take over your entire unit.
Here’s a short video on how viruses and malware can affect your system:
Therefore, it is very important to know how you can safeguard your computer, especially your drives, against them.
Why Drives Often Get Infected with Viruses and Malware
Drives were created to store information, and as they are often used, they become more prone to virus and malware attacks. There are many ways for your drives to get infected: like opening attachments from an unknown source, downloading/installing software that has already been infected by a malware or virus, or not installing an anti-virus program. Sometimes, even the ads that you see online can contain virus or malware as well.
Most Common Types of Virus and Malware
- Trojan Horse – many people are tricked into downloading and installing the Trojan Horse, commonly known as “Trojan”, as it appears to be just a normal program or file. However, it actually gives third-party applications access to the drives or unit it infected. As a result, it can monitor your computer activity or steal sensitive data like passwords, emails, banking information, etc.
- Keyloggers – it is a malware that collects information from the infected unit and sends stolen data to third parties. Some of the information it collects may include your IP address and browsing information by recording every keystroke you made. It can give the creator access to any confidential information you might have.
- Bots – unlike other virus and malware, bots wait for the command from a server that is controlled by the attacker before it does anything to the unit.
- Worms – the worm virus can delete files from the infected unit. It also consumes the bandwidth of its host network. If the web servers are often overloaded, then it is likely that the worm virus has already succeeded in infecting the unit. Worms are usually spread by sending emails with attachments that have been infected. On the other hand, most worms do not cause damage to files.
- Spyware – as the name implies, a spyware spies on your unit in order to steal confidential information like credit card number and passwords. It is a type of malware that runs in the background.
How to Protect Your Drives Against Malware and Virus
Most malware and virus target drives. Also, it only takes seconds for a malware or virus to infect your drives. To help safeguard your drives and hopefully protect your files and data, here are tips you need to follow:
1. Install Anti-Virus Software
The anti-virus software was created to protect and keep your drives malware and virus-free. Also, there’s a number of anti-virus software you can try for free. This only means that you can have your drives protected without paying anything. However, if you want a more secure and long-term protection, it would be best to buy a licensed copy. On the other hand, it is important to know that it doesn’t just end with simply installing an anti-virus software. You also need to make sure that it is updated.
While there are free anti-virus programs out there, you want the best there is – and you will need to spend a bit of cash for that. Here are three of the best anti-virus programs you can find in the market:
BitDefender – if you need an antivirus that can give you the most protection without sacrificing your computer resources, then BitDefender is the answer. Due to the program’s quality and efficiency, it’s one of the most used anti-viruses in the market. It also comes with a number of amazing features that will help keep your drives and units malware and virus-free. Not to mention, it has an excellent customer support which you can always rely on each time you have concerns.
2. Run Scans from Time to Time
Now that you already have an anti-virus software, you should use it to run scans from time to time. You can even schedule your scans to allow the program to scan your drives automatically. Through this, you will know if your drive has already been infected or not. During the signs of an infection, you can remove it using your anti-virus before it inflicts further damage to your system.
3. Update your Operating System
Regardless of whether your unit is running on a Linux, Mac, Windows, or other operating systems, updating is essential. Developers often provide updates to fix issues, especially when it comes to security matters. In other words, keeping your operating system up-to-date is equivalent to keeping your units and drives protected.
4. Change Your Password
When was the last time you have changed your password? If it has been a long time already, then perhaps, now is the time for you to consider changing your password. Make sure to choose a strong password with a combination of number, letters, and characters. Don’t use passwords that have something to do with you like your birthday, address, or name. It is also suggested for you to use a different password for your accounts. More than anything else, don’t auto-save your password.
If you have multiple accounts and want to manage and keep them all in a single place, you can use a password manager instead. In case you’re wondering, a password manager will help secure your online identity by generating a strong and unique password for each account and application you have. As a result, you don’t have to memorize each of the passwords you have. These strong passwords will secure your data against traditional methods like rainbow tables or brute force attacks.
Here are three of the most popular password managers available:
LastPass – LastPass is no doubt first on the list, and it’s all for good reasons. One, it’s among the first well-rounded programs available, as well as among the first to make online password storage quick and easy. There’s also the option of syncing it with other devices or locally on a single device. The program supports two-factor authentication through either USB devices, Google Authenticator, or a YubiKey. It also supports a wide range of operating systems such as Windows, Linux, Mac, Android, iOS, and more.
Dashlane – another amazing password manager that will help keep your passwords safe is Dashlane. With Dashlane, it is possible to store your password database on their servers, then sync them across all devices. You also have the option to store your password vault in a local device. Dashlane uses a two-step authentication via your master password and a code sent thru your email.
1Password – last but not least is 1Password. It’s a secure and powerful password manager that is easy to use, flexible, and compatible with almost any browser. 1Password traditionally uses a local file to store passwords, but it now also offers synchronization and any other features via an optional cloud service. There’s also the option to share your passwords in a secure manner via team and family accounts. This allows you to share password vaults selectively with other members. You can even control who among them can have the ability to change passwords. Aside from passwords, it’s also possible to share sensitive documents.
5. Be Careful with What You Click/Open
Regardless of whether it is an ad, attachment, or a site, you need to be careful of what you click or open as it may open up opportunities for the attackers to breach your unit and your drive. Many have fallen victims to malware and virus attacks because of clicking random things that pop up especially on their browsers.
If you download something online, such as an email attachment or computer program, make sure you scan them first. Most email services like Gmail and Yahoo Mail have their own email scanning feature. However, you can also find this feature in your anti-virus software.
6. Make Sure that Your Network is Secure
Your network should also have a strong password to ensure that no third-parties can access it without your permission. Also, it would not be a great move for you to broadcast your Wi-Fi network’s name. It’s ideal to use either WPA or WPA2 encryption as each of them is a lot more secure compared to WEP.
7. Back up your files
Your drives serve as storage for your files. So make sure to back up all your files, especially important documents. You can now use cloud storage for easier and more secure storage. This way, you still have a backup in case the files in your drive get deleted or corrupted due to a virus or malware attack.
You can also use a backup software for more security and reliability. Like antivirus programs, there are a number of free backup software available out there. But then again, if you want to maximize your protection, I recommend opting for a paid version. Here are three of the best backup programs you can find:
Ashampoo Backup Pro 11 – originally known as Ocster Backup Pro, Ashampoo will walk you through a simple wizard in order to create a backup of your files, folders, or even the entire hard drive. It also allows file versioning and compression, along with encryption, file recovery, and automatic pausing in case too much computer resources are being used.
AOMEI Backupper Professional – it is the full and paid version of the AOMEI Backupper Standard. It features simple file/folder backup along with partition and even entire disk backup. You also have access to an easy file recovery wizard in addition to compressing your backup, splitting it into individual pieces, or even backing up files you’re currently using.
8. Make Use of a Firewall
Although you already have an anti-virus software, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your system is already secured and protected against virus or malware attacks. That being said, you have to make use of a firewall as it can provide you an added protection whenever you surf the internet.
With a firewall installed, you can keep on fighting the ongoing battle to keep your system secure. Fortunately, both Windows and Mac have their own built-in firewall. Unfortunately, they aren’t secure enough. You will need to use a third-party software as it is far better than what the built-in firewall can offer when it comes to features and usability.
Here are three options you want to consider:
9. Disable Autorun
Most viruses will attach themselves to a download program or file then automatically install themselves on your system. As a result, any drives within your network along with external and flash drives will result in automatic propagation of such infection.
However, you can prevent this from happening by disabling the autorun feature. Each operating system has its own means of disabling autorun. For Windows, you might want to refer to their knowledge base articles through this link
Since the procedure varies for each Windows version, it’s ideal to look for your specific version in the list.
10. Use a Pop-up Blocker
By using a pop-up blocker, you can block any potentially dangerous ads from popping up on your screen whenever you browse online. While you might just consider popup blockers as a simple solution for getting rid of annoying advertisements, they actually do more by keeping your system secure.
Advertisements can also be a potential carrier of security risks like viruses and malware. Fortunately, browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge have their own built-in popup blockers.
However, you can also use third-party blockers to make blocking more effective and keep your system more secure. Here are three of them:
The Bottom Line
We both know how frustrating it is when your drives are infected with viruses and malware. At that point, the best you can do is have your drives repaired by your technician. However, if you don’t want that to happen, you can always take precautionary measures using the tips I provided above.
Hopefully, you’ll be able to apply these tips to your system. After all, no one wants to deal with lost or corrupted files due to poor system protection. Keep them safe and protected!
Don’t forget to check out The best portable drives list…