In many ways, the new year is a celebration. For some people, it means time with family; for others, time at work. Then there are those of us who spend their time making everyone else's life miserable.
Everything from Engrish-Spam to viruses claiming to be the FBI seems to just come pouring out all at once this time of year.
I think it is best to think of the next few weeks as a fireworks show for malware, with the grand finale being on January 1st. You will get more spam, more identity thieves, and more viruses than any other time of the year.
Here are a few tips to keep the holidays running smoothly:
- If you don't know the sender, chances are it's spam or a virus. These emails are best deleted immediately, without even opening.
- If someone you know sends you any links regarding "great deals," "cheap <blank>" or free programs, they may have an infected computer, and the virus may be trying to infect your computer too. If you can, try and contact them via an alternate route, OR forward the email back to them asking if they actually sent it.
- If any branch of the government tries to contact you, chances are it's not actually them. This particular type of email can carry a VERY serious virus, which can result in data loss, and even identity theft.
- Most virus protection suites offer email scanning, make sure this is turned on during the holidays; even if it slows your computer down some.
Files & Programs
- Be VERY cautious of installing any program, or even updating any program, even those you know very well. Most viruses hide inside of falsified program updates and installations. Only download directly from a program’s official website.
- Make sure you have virus protection, and it is up-to-date. If you can't currently afford virus protection, you should do a trial of a name brand service. Avoid "free" virus protection.
- Malware is often embedded in compressed files, such as zip files. Avoid these as much as possible.
- Facebook, Google +, Pinterest, etc: Be cautious of links/images shared by friends; just like a normal computer, a person’s social account can be compromised.
- Forum Sites: These are prone to spam by nature, and are even worse during the holidays.
- Mature Websites: These sites are directed at some type of adult niche (not just pornographic material). They are prone to identity theft more than anything else.
I think everyone has their favorites, and I am not about to argue between them. So my personal favorites are Bitdefender with Norton 360 as a good alternative. Feel free to mention your favorites and why they are you favorite in the comments below. (I will link to comments here as a list)
If you have any suggestions on content that should be added to this, please comment below. I will happily add it to this article along with a reference to you.
Happy holidays and good luck for the new year.