Protecting yourself from a virus


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Protecting yourself from a virus

Man stares at a computer screen

What's coming up?

Getting a virus on your computer can affect how well the computer works. Thankfully, there are easy ways to protect yourself from them so that you may never have to deal with one.

In this activity, we're going to look at what a computer virus is and the three steps you can take to help avoid one:

  1. Think before you click.
  2. Keep a backup.
  3. Get antivirus software.
Start activity

What is a virus?

A virus is a type of undesirable computer program that you may get if you download something from untrusted websites. Instead of receiving what you think you're downloading, you get a virus in its place.

Illustrations of a warning symbol, a bug, a bomb and a death note
Illustrations of a warning symbol, a bug, a bomb and a death note

What can a computer virus do?

A computer virus can do range of things to your computer, including:

  • deleting or locking documents on your computer so that you can’t open them
  • forcing your web browser to open web pages you don't want to open
  • causing advertisements to constantly cover your computer screen.

So what steps can you take to avoid them?

Step 1 - Think before you click

To avoid your computer being affected by a virus, you should only download files from trusted sources, such as:

  • websites of organisations you know or have a relationship with
  • websites whose addresses you have checked are authentic, display a padlock and start their website address with https://
  • websites with a Contact Us page.
Three basic checkpoints of a safer website including a padlock symbol, contact us and https
A laptop backing up with cd, dvd, USB and hard drive options for saving

Step 2 - Keep a backup

Be sure to make copies of important photos and documents onto a hard drive, DVD, USB or the cloud. You can also make printed copies if you have a printer.

With a good backup plan, you can still have access to your valuable information if your computer is affected by a virus.

If you are unfamiliar with the cloud, you can find out more, including how to back up documents, in our Using the cloud courses.

Step 3 - Get antivirus protection

Make sure you have antivirus software on your computer. This will help defend against a computer virus infection and keep your documents safe.

We'll tell you more about antivirus software in the next activity, What is antivirus software?

Antivirus scanner pop-up message asking if you'd like to 'scan now'

Avoiding a virus

Which two steps can you take to avoid downloading a computer virus?

Use antivirus software

Click to flip

Correct. Antivirus software gives you additional protection for your computer and data.

Don't download from untrusted sources

Click to flip

Correct. It's always best to avoid downloading from websites you are not familiar with.

Assume a link is safe if your friend sent it to you

Click to flip

Incorrect. While it might be OK, your friend's email or texts can be hacked. Always be cautious and check web addresses for yourself.

A man shows a young buy something on his tablet


Well done, you've finished the Protecting yourself from a virus activity, and understand the three steps you can take to prevent having to deal with a computer virus:

  • Think before you click.
  • Keep a backup.
  • Get antivirus software.

We take a look at antivirus software in the next activity, What is antivirus software?.