How to protect your computer from harmful software

To ensure that your system is basically free of malicious software, the following software should be on your computer.

A current and proven antivirus program: antivirus software runs continuously in the background, protecting your computer from known malware.

The program should be updated regularly (automatically) to recognize as many types of malware as possible. Windows operating systems have their Antivirus program: Microsoft Security Essentials (Windows-Vista, Windows-7) or Windows Defender (Windows-8, Windows-10, and Windows-11).

Many proven and free antivirus programs are available, such as the software from Avast, Avira, and 360 Total Security. The antivirus programs are available in different versions for Windows, Mac, and Android operating systems. Another well-known and free virus scanner for Windows is Panda Free Antivirus.

The terms “antivirus program” and “virus scanner” are a bit confusing: of course, with it, you can protect the system from viruses and remove almost any virus (or at least get instructions on how to remove them). That includes worms, Trojans, and other malicious software.

So an antivirus software protects not only against computer viruses but also against other malware and helps you remove all types of malware. That’s why it is sometimes referred to as “anti-malware software” in this context.

An active firewall: only if your firewall is enabled can you protect your computer from unwanted network access. A firewall is part of many operating systems, including Windows.

The current version of your operating system: malware often exploits security loopholes to access your computer. Make sure your operating system is always up-to-date – you can set up automatic updates, for example.

Up-to-date versions of your programs: constantly update your software, especially those that are connected to the Internet. Outdated versions of web browsers, Java, Flash, and other applications often have security loopholes that allow malicious programs to access your system.

Often a thoughtless action on the Internet is the reason why malware gets onto the computer. However, by following a few guidelines, you can already significantly reduce the risk of infection:

  • Accept only programs and files from trusted sources. Software and antivirus updates should always be downloaded from the official website or, in the case of free and shareware, from well-known download portals.
  • When installing programs, be careful not to install unintended programs as well.
    Do not open attachments and links in emails from unknown senders or messages with a dubious subject.
  • Do not blindly click on ads, banners, and pop-ups when you are on the Internet. Especially avoid links that promise you special promotions, coupons, or other dubious offers.
  • Always be careful with sensitive data, such as bank account information, login details, and passwords.
  • Save necessary backup copies externally – in case your computer gets infected with malware, this can only be solved by formatting the system.