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Free, Simple Tips to Prevent Malware Attacks

posted Nov 12, 2014, 11:41 AM by Duane Martin   [ updated Mar 2, 2015, 10:11 AM ]

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Malware like the CryptoLocker use a trick where they hide a malicious file inside of a .ZIP attachment.  They name the malicious file filename.pdf.exe.  By default Windows hides the actual extension so the file looks like filename.pdf and they add an official looking PDF icon to the file so you will open it without realizing.  The trick has also been used to look like JPG, DOCX, etc.  I would suggest that you approach every email with caution and if anything has even a hint of suspicion, contact the sender to confirm it's legitimacy before clicking any links or attachments.  Also, remember, email attachments aren't the only way to get a virus on your computer.  They could come from phony links on Facebook, Twitter, etc. or from searching the internet and clicking on a fake website which tricks you into clicking an authorization link, or from installing unauthorized software, or from an infected usb drive or other shared storage location, just to name a few.


Tip: Make sure your most important files are regularly backed up.  Preferably either on some cloud storage or external USB device that is not left connected to your computer except during the backup process.

Tip:  Use the plugin in all your web browsers.  Web of Trust (WOT) is a community driven voting system that helps protect you when searching the internet by flagging and blocking known bad and malicious websites.

Tip: If you get an email that has an attachment, and you question the message even slightly, before you open it, contact the sender to confirm it's legitimacy, or upload the attachment to and they'll thoroughly scan the file for any know threats using 47 top malware scanners.

Tip: If you get an email or a tweet, etc. with a link that you're unsure of, copy/paste it to  The site will decode the url and show you were it actually points to, as well as a thumbnail and some details about the threat level of the destination.

Windows User Tip:  If you disable the Hide extensions for known file types feature, you will be able to quickly tell if the file is really what it claims to be or if it's actually an exe, zip, com, etc.

Tip: Always make sure you keep your software up to date.  Most importantly, your Anti-Virus software, Mac/Windows OS updates, MS Office, Java, and Adobe Acrobat & Flash.  Whenever they prompt you to complete updates, you should plan to take care of it sooner, rather then later.  NOTE:  unfortunately, the Adobe and Java updates still try to install other third party 'bloatware' when you update them.  So be prepared to un-check the option to include these 'free' extras.

Thanks for reading if you have a comment or additional tip you would like to add please leave comment below.