Imagine logging in to your online banking account and discovering that your accounts have been emptied! Not a cent left.
Now imagine phoning your bank and being told that there may be little they can do to recover your money, as it has been transferred to a foreign bank in what looked to be a legitimate transaction.
How could this happen? Perhaps your password was stolen by fraudsters using a virus to install keytracker software on your computer. Maybe this is an extreme example, but it is a very real threat and it's better to be prepared rather than to be pleading with your bank to have your stolen funds returned.
Anti-virus software to the rescue
Anti-virus software helps to protect you by preventing malicious programs (malware) from infecting your computer, and by detecting and removing such malware if it does make it onto your PC.
Although technically a subset of malware, the term virus is often used to refer to myriad types of malware such as viruses, worms, trojan horses and spyware, among others.
Having current antivirus software active on your computer is essential if you're going to be using that computer to engage in online banking.
Stick to known brands - there are many good virus checkers out there, but also some fakes. Check with your local computer store if you're unsure about whether an antivirus programme is trustworthy. Some well-known antivirus products are:
- Norton AntiVirus
- McAfee VirusScan
- Kaspersky Anti-Virus
Be sure to keep your anti virus software up-to-date. There are many new viruses created every day so it's vital that you keep your defenses current and strong.
Schedule your computer to do an automatic virus scan at least once a week. If a threat is missed first-time-round then hopefully it will be picked up and deactivated during your weekly virus scan.
Make sure your antivirus software is always loaded and running on your PC! It should be fine to do a full-system scan just once a week, but your antivirus software must always be running in the background in order to detect new threats when they first arrive on your computer. Using Microsoft Windows you should see a little icon near the bottom right-hand corner of your screen to indicate that the antivirus software is running.
Further protection is also required, by means of a computer firewall. A firewall is hardware or software that aims to stop malicious attacks before they even reach your web browser (or before even reaching your computer in the case of hardware firewalls). Most of the top antivirus software bundles in firewall software as a premium option.
Be pro-active. Keep your computer secure for safe online banking!