Closeup of Virus Alert Sign in Internet Browser on LCD Screen

If you’re like a vast number of business owners and employees these days, much of your work day involves spending time using a computer system. While technology has made a lot of jobs easier and quicker, unfortunately it has also exposed us to many security threats, such as viruses and malware, which hackers generate so prevalently these days. In fact, if you’re someone who has had to deal with a tricky virus, spyware, malware or the like recently, you might be just one of the 16 million Americans who have been exposed to a serious vulnerability in the last two years.

Computer viruses and other cyberattacks can cost people, businesses, and other organizations billions of dollars each year. If you want to try to protect yourself and your company from the various costs involved (including time, money, and energy), read on for some things you can do to protect your computer-enabled devices today.

Install Antivirus, Anti-spyware, and Anti-malware Software

Although you may think that a free antivirus application is enough to protect your computer from viruses and the like, be aware that these zero-cost options are generally not enough to provide adequate protection, particularly from the always-growing list of threats that change so regularly.

To really cover your systems properly, you need to purchase quality antivirus, anti-spyware, and anti-malware software. You’ll usually find that it pays to choose a product that is specifically designed for the type of computer you own. As a result, try to buy professional antivirus for your Mac or for your Windows system specifically.

Top-quality programs will update your computer more often during the day than cheaper products, which helps to provide the latest protection against any fast-emerging issues. Business-grade software tends to protect your computer against a bigger range of threats too, and can even provide extra features such as custom scans. In addition, bear in mind that professional-grade anti-spyware software and the like won’t just work to prevent infections, but also fully remove them if they’re already present on your computer.

Once you have all of this top software installed, don’t forget to keep it updated as well. These programs require signature and database updates frequently, since without them they won’t be able to protect your computer from the latest threats. Remember that many of the viruses and other programs created by hackers these days can spread alarmingly quickly, largely due to the popularity of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. If you spend the time and money on software to protect your systems, make sure they continue to work for you and don’t get outdated.

Use Firewalls

Another must for your computer system is a firewall — a security system that works to stop unauthorized access from being gained. Firewalls are particularly important if you use your devices in your business, to take sensitive data and other information from your customers via Internet-based programs.

Firewalls work to protect computers from cybercriminals who attempt to get access to passwords, personal information, credit card numbers and other valuable data, or to crash your system or delete information. A firewall can stop many different potential issues, such as worms, a variety of viruses, and malicious network traffic; plus other types of attacks on computer vulnerabilities that cybercriminals exploit.

While you can choose to turn on the firewalls that usually come installed on your computer’s operating system, it often pays to purchase a third-party product that is more comprehensive. Many IT professionals also espouse the benefits of hardware-based firewalls, rather than software-based options. If your PC is connected to the Internet, it pays to have it secured behind a quality hardware-based firewall that cannot be hacked remotely.

Disable Autorun

Another tip to help protect your devices from the many circulating viruses is to disable the autorun feature that is installed on many operating systems. This is because a lot of viruses work through attaching themselves to a drive and then installing themselves, automatically, on other media that might be connected to the system. This means that if you have autorun set up and then connect external hard disks, network drives, or thumb drives to your computer, you might unwittingly, and automatically, propagate the threats throughout your system.

Disable Automatic Preview of Images

Similarly, it’s also a good idea to disable image previews in your email system, such as that used in Microsoft Outlook. Although you will find that newer versions of many email programs won’t automatically display images (because viruses can often be coded into graphics codes to enable execution and infection), many of the older versions do. As well, if you share your computer with other users, check in case they have changed the settings on new email systems to automatically download all pictures.