Protect Your PC from Malware



The previous hack detailed how to rescue your PC from malicious software, but prevention can save you a lot of headache in the future.
After all, the worst time to start thinking about protecting your PC from malwareis after you’ve fallen victim to a virus, adware, or spyware. Most PCs ship with a preinstalled antivirus tool — one that usually starts nagging you to pay for a subscription after the 3-month trial is over. Pay-for antivirus solutions do a fine job, but you can set up strong Windows security without a price tag.
Preventative Malware Protection
A popular, free anti-malware tool is Microsoft Security Essentials, previously discussed and available as a free download at
Microsoft Security Essentials integrates with Windows and provides real-time protection from viruses, spyware, and other malware. Download and launch
Microsoft Security Essentials and click Update to ensure it has the latest virus definitions. Select the type of scan you prefer — Quick, Custom, or Full — and click
the Scan Now button to perform an initial system scan.
Unlike many free antivirus solutions, MSE doesn’t require you to manually scan your system every time you want to check for malware. By default, MSE provides real-time protection, meaning that once it’s installed, enabled, and running in your system tray, it alerts you when any detected malware attempts to install or run on your PC without waiting for you to run a scan. From the Settings tab, you can set MSE to scan your downloads, monitor incoming and outgoing file traffic on your computer, scan USB drives, scan file archives (like ZIP), schedule fuller automatic system scans (a good idea whether or not you enabled real-time protection), and set rules for how it should handle potential threats.
Scan a Suspicious File with 30 Antivirus Tools at Once Antivirus applications certainly have the best of intentions, but sometimes they can make mistakes. When you run into a file or program that’s been flagged as a virus but you suspect it might be a false positive, upload the file to Virus Total (, a free web-based service that scans files with more than 30 different popular antivirus applications and returns the results of each scan (see Figure 11-3). If a file isn’t flagged as a virus by the most of the scanners, and it’s a legitimate download (for example, something from a trusted source), then most often you can feel safe assuming that the file is clean.
TIP Virus Total’s advanced tools
(available at make uploading to and scanning files with Virus Total a breeze. On Windows, install the VT Uploader to add VirusTotal to the Send To context menu in Windows Explorer.