Hello, all.  My name is David – my job at Art Unlimited is mainly focused on the hardcore programming for the websites we create. This morning, the team asked if I would write a little bit about the recent serious threat to online security. So – here it goes.

The History of a Computer Virus

Viruses has affected nearly every computer system and operating system since 1971. The self replicating program theory based on viruses dates back to 1949. (what!!) In 1977, the first spam email was created – albeit by accident when someone was advertising specials for the military.

Ever since the 1980s, I have dealt with computer viruses and server infections.  Every minute, it seems, a new one shows up.  Each virus varies greatly on the impact it makes on your website.  Across the board, however, the worst part is removing viruses and fixing programs which is very time consuming.

The Cost of Cleaning Up a Computer Virus

Cleaning up an infected computer is an expensive endeavor.  If you bring it in to have a professional clean out the system, the project will easily cost over $100, in addition to the cost of any required antivirus programs.

Why does it cost so much?

The person(s) that have to clean out your computer system use advanced software tools to scan your computer.  These tools are able to located the infected areas and try to recover your files off your system as well.

Scanning the hard drive, rebooting the computer several times to make sure that all the infections are cleaned out, takes an excessive amount of time and attention. The computer has to be monitored at all times, and you may not get your system back for a day or two.

What Happens if My Website is Infected?

Website security is a little different than your computer.  Viruses are spread either by “back doors” left in programs (unsecured files, etc.) or from other innocent users that are using an infected system.

If a breach is found in the server of your website, a virus can go in and spread infecting files throughout the entire server.  Some of these files will travel around until they infect an improperly secured login screen.  This makes it nearly impossible to go in and fix the problem.

Preventative Security is Available

The Art Unlimited team has made a huge push over the past couple months to raise awareness with our clients about the importance of online security.  There are so many simple measures you can take to keep your website safe – but many choose to wait until they experience the detrimental effects of a hacker.

It is very frustrating when a client calls to tell us that their site is being hacked into.  Disreputable links and ads wreak havoc on your site’s reputation with clients – and flash warning signs to Google.  When it detects that your site has been hacked, Google will “blacklist” you and hide your website from online searches.  The corrective process is fairly involved and includes a lot of expensive attention by the programming team.  Preventative maintenance is easier, simpler, and far more affordable.

It’s really unfortunate that some people do not have anything better to do than cause issues on a stranger’s website.  Typically, they do it because money is involved.  The spammy ads generate revenue for the hacker – at the same time that you are losing the trust of your clients.

Keep it safe with Antivirus Software

To make sure that your website is secure, it always starts with the basics: your computer system.  There are several antivirus software options for you to use, depending on what you need it for. When researching software, check for good ratings and reviews.

Here at Art Unlimited, we use two: Vipre and Avast.

Mac users: despite common opinion, you are not safe from viruses.  A couple of free antivirus software choices are AVG and Avast.  I personally use these for my security at home. More comprehensive packages are available for purchase, typically charged by a yearly fee.

Watch out for:

Watch out for rogue programs that spam you under the self-proclaimed title of “antivirus” software.  These programs have popups that display on your computer screen during web browser sessions and can become irritating with the amount of spam warnings and ads that they promote on your desktop. Two common programs like this are from Malware Cleaner; another well-known one is AV AntiSpyware.  These two will both falsely tell you that your computer is infected.  Then, they try to extort money from you to pay them to remove the virus from your computer.

Here is a list of spam antivirus programs – as well as a list of how to remove them from your computer: Virus Removal Article.

Better Safe than Sorry

We’ve covered only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to viruses, trojans, and malware programs.  It is all about how you can keep your computer safe – as well as what Art Unlimited can do to keep your website safe.

To learn more about keeping your website clean, safe, and user-friendly, please contact us today.

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