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Archive for the ‘antivirus software’ Category

What to do if your antivirus subscription has expired

September 16th, 2014 No comments

Phil asks:

I’m new to Windows 8.1. Now that my free security software has expired, how do I go about making Windows Defender my choice security method?

Windows Defender is included with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 and helps protect your PC against malware (malicious software). Many new computers come with free subscriptions to antivirus software and other security programs from companies other than Microsoft. If the subscription runs out and you don’t want to pay for it, you need to:

  1. Fully uninstall the non-Microsoft security software that came with your computer.
  2. Make sure Windows Defender is turned on.

To uninstall the security software that came with your computer, check the software’s Help file.

Make sure Windows Defender is turned on in Windows 8

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Search (or if you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search).
  2. In the Search box, type Windows Defender.
  3. Tap or click the Windows Defender icon.
  4. Go to Settings, and make sure that Turn on real-time protection (recommended) is selected.
  5. Tap or click Save Changes.

What to do if your antivirus subscription has expired

September 16th, 2014 No comments

Phil asks:

I’m new to Windows 8.1. Now that my free security software has expired, how do I go about making Windows Defender my choice security method?

Windows Defender is included with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 and helps protect your PC against malware (malicious software). Many new computers come with free subscriptions to antivirus software and other security programs from companies other than Microsoft. If the subscription runs out and you don’t want to pay for it, you need to:

  1. Fully uninstall the non-Microsoft security software that came with your computer.
  2. Make sure Windows Defender is turned on.

To uninstall the security software that came with your computer, check the software’s Help file.

Make sure Windows Defender is turned on in Windows 8

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Search (or if you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search).
  2. In the Search box, type Windows Defender.
  3. Tap or click the Windows Defender icon.
  4. Go to Settings, and make sure that Turn on real-time protection (recommended) is selected.
  5. Tap or click Save Changes.

What to do if your antivirus subscription has expired

September 16th, 2014 No comments

Phil asks:

I’m new to Windows 8.1. Now that my free security software has expired, how do I go about making Windows Defender my choice security method?

Windows Defender is included with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 and helps protect your PC against malware (malicious software). Many new computers come with free subscriptions to antivirus software and other security programs from companies other than Microsoft. If the subscription runs out and you don’t want to pay for it, you need to:

  1. Fully uninstall the non-Microsoft security software that came with your computer.
  2. Make sure Windows Defender is turned on.

To uninstall the security software that came with your computer, check the software’s Help file.

Make sure Windows Defender is turned on in Windows 8

  1. Swipe in from the right edge of the screen and tap Search (or if you’re using a mouse, point to the upper-right corner of the screen, move the mouse pointer down, and then click Search).
  2. In the Search box, type Windows Defender.
  3. Tap or click the Windows Defender icon.
  4. Go to Settings, and make sure that Turn on real-time protection (recommended) is selected.
  5. Tap or click Save Changes.

Can I run more than one antivirus program?

August 5th, 2014 No comments

Carole asks:

Is it OK to run Windows Defender with Norton or McAfee antivirus protection?

No. You should never run more than one antivirus program at the same time. The two programs could slow down your computer, and they might even identify each other as a virus, which could lead to file corruption or other conflicts and errors that make your antivirus protection less effective—or not effective at all.

We recommend that you use the antivirus protection that’s included in your version of Windows. Windows 8 includes antivirus and antispyware protection called Windows Defender. If you use Windows 7 or Windows Vista, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials at no cost.

For more information, see How to boost your malware defense and protect your PC.

Microsoft takes on world’s worst cybercriminals

July 15th, 2014 No comments

Microsoft recently took legal action against a group of cybercriminals suspected of spreading malicious software to millions of unsuspecting computer users.

These social media–savvy cybercriminals have not only spread the malware themselves, but they’ve also promoted their malicious tools across the Internet, offering step-by-step instructions to completely control millions of unsuspecting victims’ computers to conduct illicit crimes.

For more information on the legal action, see Microsoft takes on global cybercrime epidemic in tenth malware disruption.

To help protect yourself against cybercrime

  • Keep your operating system and other software updated.
  • Use antivirus software (and keep it updated).
  • Don’t open suspicious email messages, links, or attachments.

Get more guidance at How to boost your malware defense and protect your PC.

Security improvements in Windows 8

April 15th, 2014 No comments

Support ended for Windows XP last week. That means technical assistance for Windows XP is no longer available.

To stay protected, you can upgrade your current computer or buy a new one. Windows 8.1 Update runs on a wider variety of devices, so you’ll have more to choose from, including budget-friendly laptops and tablets.

Windows 8 security and safety features

Windows Update installs important updates as they become available. Windows 8 turns on automatic updating as part of the initial setup process. Keep in mind that Windows Update won’t add any applications to your computer without asking for your permission. Get more answers to your Windows Update questions.

Help keep your family safer. With Windows 8, you can monitor your children’s Internet use, choose which games or apps they can access, and block or allow access to certain websites. Keep track of your kids online.

Antivirus protection is now included for your PC. Windows Defender, which is built in to Windows 8, replaces Microsoft Security Essentials. It runs in the background and notifies you when you need to take specific action.

Learn about other ways to keep your PC safer from viruses with Windows 8

Buying a new PC? Save $100 when you buy any Surface Pro 2 or select PCs over $599

Get the latest security updates and find out what to do if your computer is running Windows XP

April 8th, 2014 No comments

Microsoft releases security updates on the second Tuesday of every month.

Support for Windows XP has ended

Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.

As a result, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC. Microsoft will also stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP on this date. (If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time, but this does not mean that your PC will be secure because Microsoft will no longer provide security updates to help protect your PC.)

More information

Get security updates for March 2014

March 11th, 2014 No comments

Microsoft releases security updates on the second Tuesday of every month.

Skip the details and check for the latest updates.

This bulletin announces the release of security updates for Windows, Microsoft Word, and other programs.

To get more information about security updates and other privacy and security issues delivered to your email inbox, sign up for our newsletter.

Best ways to battle botnets

February 25th, 2014 No comments

What is a botnet?

Botnets are networks of compromised computers that criminals use to commit fraud, such as:

  • Secretly spreading malware
  • Stealing personal information
  • Hijacking Internet search results to take you to websites that are potentially dangerous

How do I know if my computer is part of a botnet?

Your computer might be part of a botnet if it crashes or stops responding often or you experience other malware symptoms. You might also be directed to this page:

 

How can I clean my computer if I’ve been infected?

Botnets infect your computer with malware. To clean your computer, run the Microsoft Safety Scanner, and then run a scan with your antivirus software.

Get more guidance on how to remove malware

How can I help keep my computer out of botnets?

Make sure your computer has antivirus software, such as Windows Defender or Microsoft Security Essentials, and keep it updated.

To learn more about botnets, see How to better protect your PC from botnets and malware.

Categories: antivirus software, botnet, malware Tags:

How do I know if I already have antivirus software?

February 21st, 2014 No comments

If your computer is running Windows 8

If your computer is running Windows 8, you already have antivirus software. Windows 8 includes Windows Defender, which helps protect you from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

If Windows Defender is turned off and you don’t have another antivirus program installed (or your other antivirus program is not working), you will see a warning in the notification area on your taskbar.

If your computer is running Windows 7

Windows 7 includes spyware protection, but to protect against viruses you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.

To find out if you already have antivirus software:

  1. Open Action Center by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, and then, under System and Security, clicking Review your computer’s status.
  2. Click the arrow button  next to Security to expand the section.

If Windows can detect your antivirus software, it’s listed under Virus protection.

Windows doesn’t detect all antivirus software, and some antivirus software doesn’t report its status to Windows. If your antivirus software isn’t displayed in Action Center and you’re not sure how to find it, try any of the following:

  • Type the name of the software or the publisher in the Search box on the Start menu.
  • Look for your antivirus program’s icon in the notification area of the taskbar.

If your computer is running Windows Vista

Windows Vista does not include virus protection. To protect against viruses, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.

The status of your antivirus software is typically displayed in Windows Security Center.

  1. Open Security Center by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Security, and then clicking Security Center.
  2. Click Malware protection.

If Windows can detect your antivirus software, it will be listed under Virus protection.

Windows does not detect all antivirus software, and some antivirus software doesn’t report its status to Windows. If your antivirus software is not displayed in Windows Security Center and you’re not sure how to find it, try any of the following:

  • Look for the antivirus software in the list of programs on the Start menu.
  • Type the name of the software or the publisher in the Search box on the Start menu.
  • Look for the icon in the notification area of the taskbar.

If your computer is running Windows XP

Click the security icon on the taskbar, or click Start, select Control Panel, and then double-click Security Center.

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for Windows XP. This means that after April 8, there will be no new security updates available through automatic updating for computers that are still running Windows XP.

Also on this date, Microsoft will stop providing Microsoft Security Essentials for download on Windows XP. (If you already have Microsoft Security Essentials installed, you will continue to receive antimalware signature updates for a limited time, but this does not mean that your PC will be secure because Microsoft will no longer provide security updates to protect it.)

For more information, see Support is ending soon.

Get more information about upgrading to Windows 7 and Windows 8.

I don’t know what operating system my computer is running

Find out what operating system your computer is running

 

 

Do I need anything besides Windows Defender?

January 16th, 2014 No comments

A reader asks:

If I have Windows Defender, do I need to buy anything else to protect my computer?

If your computer is running the Windows 8 operating system, Windows Defender will help protect you from viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. You don’t need to buy anything else. 

If your computer is running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, Windows Defender removes spyware, but to protect yourself from viruses, you’ll need to download antivirus software. You can purchase it from a third party, or you can download Microsoft Security Essentials for free.

More ways to protect against viruses and other malware

Run newer software. Advanced security technologies in modern operating systems are specifically designed to make it more difficult, more complex, more expensive, and therefore, less appealing to cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities.

Regularly install updates for all your software. Update your antivirus and antispyware programs, browsers (like Windows Internet Explorer), operating systems (like Windows), and word processing and other programs. Learn how to turn on automatic updating.

Make sure your firewall is turned on. A firewall will also help protect against viruses and hackers. Find out if your version of Windows has a built-in firewall.

For more information, see How to remove and avoid computer viruses.

10 New Year’s resolutions for your digital devices and your online life

December 31st, 2013 No comments

It’s a new year, which means it’s time to resolve to create healthier habits in our daily lives. But we don’t have to stop at just improving our body, mind, and spirit. It’s also a good idea to resolve to keep our PCs, laptops, smartphones, and social networking sites healthy this year.

1. Keep your software up to date. You can help protect against viruses, fraud, and more by keeping your operating system, antivirus software, antispyware software, web browser, and other software updated. Microsoft releases security updates on the second Tuesday of every month. Learn how to get security updates automatically.

2. Create strong passwords, keep them secret, and change them regularly. This is particularly important for those passwords that safeguard your computer, important accounts (like email or Facebook), and sensitive information, like financial and health data. Get more information about creating strong passwords and protecting them.

3. Use antivirus software. If your computer is running Windows 8, you can use the built-in Windows Defender to help you detect and get rid of spyware and other malware. If your computer is running Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, Windows Defender removes spyware.

4. Check and adjust your privacy settings. You can participate in the online world and keep your information private. Learn more about how to manage your privacy settings in Windows, Internet Explorer, your Microsoft account, Windows Phone, and more. 

Watch a video about privacy in action (1:19).

5. Teach your children about online safety. Before kids use computers, gaming consoles, or mobile devices, make sure you agree on clear limits, talk about how to keep accounts and passwords secret, and help them stand up to online bullying. If your child got a new device this holiday season, read this checklist for safety tips.

6. Monitor your children’s online behaviors, and continue to talk to them about Internet safety. If your kids are online, it’s important to have regular online safety conversations and to continue to keep track of what they’re doing. For more information, see Age-based guidelines for kids’ Internet use.

7. Upgrade to modern software that provides the latest security technologies and protections. Advanced security technologies in modern operating systems are specifically designed to make it more difficult, more complex, more expensive, and therefore, less appealing to cybercriminals to exploit vulnerabilities. Learn more about how support for Windows XP ends this year.

8. Use SkyDrive to help protect your personal information. Ransomware is a type of malware designed to infiltrate your computer and hold your files (photos, documents, reports, etc.) hostage until you pay the demanded amount of money to a cybercriminal. One of the best ways to protect your files is to back them up using a removable drive or a cloud service like SkyDrive.

9. Explore new tools for PC protection. If you feel comfortable performing more advanced computer tasks, consider downloading the free Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET), which will make it even more difficult for malicious hackers and cybercriminals to get into your computer.

10. Ignore fake tech support phone calls. Neither Microsoft nor our partners make unsolicited phone calls (also known as cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes. If you receive a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft, all you have to do is hang up. For more information, see Avoid tech support phone scams.

 

Online safety tips for travelers

December 19th, 2013 No comments

If you’re travelling this holiday season and you plan to be online, here are a few ways to protect yourself and your family:

Get more mobile and wireless tips.

Safer is sweeter

Each fall when kids go “back to school,” parents and caregivers prepare their kids for homework, school programs, sports, even “trick-or-treating.” It’s also important that families have the same preparedness when using technology. We should encourage all children to enjoy the goodies the Internet provides, while helping them avoid the spookier things that can happen online. 

This collection of treats can help your little monsters avoid some of the digital “tricks” that can occur, supporting the notion that being safer online is sweeter for everyone!

Defend their devices & information from online creepers:

Help your goblins learn to use social networks safely:

  • Follow the age-usage guidelines set by social networking sites.
  • Work with kids to use Settings or Options in online services to manage who can see their profile or tagged photos, how people can search for them and make comments, and how to block people.
  • Ask kids to think about who they accept as friends and to reassess periodically.  
  • Empower kids to promote a positive image online, and be respectful with the comments and images they post.

Say “boo!” to online bullying:

  • Stay curious in kids’ lives online by asking them to show you their interests, what games they play, what they post and with whom they are talking online; lead with your own example; watch for signs of online cruelty, and ask kids to report any type of online drama.
  • Encourage empathy. Suggest kids put themselves in another’s shoes. With your support, they can stand up for someone being bullied online.
  • Promote compassion in the community by advocating for school trainings and kindness campaigns.

Participate in our #SaferIsSweeter Twitter contest for the chance to win a Surface RT!  Read the official rules for details. 

  • Follow us on Twitter and tweet to us the answers to seven daily questions about online safety & security.
    • You may answer each question at any time as long as you answer all of them by the end the day on October 31, 2013.
    • Your tweets entries must include the hashtag #SaferIsSweeter, corresponding question number (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4, Q5, Q6, or Q7) so it is clear which you are answering, and be relevant to the discussion topic. 

EMET: A valuable tool for PC protection

October 18th, 2013 No comments

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you’ve probably already taken steps to help protect your PC. You have antivirus software that you trust and you keep it updated automatically. You’ve activated your firewall. You regularly install security updates. You know not to respond to suspicious emails or to click links with promises that seem too good to be true.

Today we’d like to tell you about an advanced tool that complements your existing defenses, making it even more difficult for malicious hackers and cybercriminals to get into your computer. If you feel comfortable performing more advanced computer tasks, consider downloading the free Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit (EMET).

EMET is a free tool available for Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP. EMET works by taking advantage of security technologies that already exist on your PC, but might not be used by all of your programs. EMET helps protect your computer from new or undiscovered threats until they can be addressed through formal security updates. Katie Couric, a journalist and a talk show host, recently hosted a segment called Protect Your Computers from Hackers and recommended that families install and use EMET.

Download EMET now

Once installed, EMET works quietly in the background without interrupting your computer use. Like any security tool, EMET doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never have any problems, but it does make it much harder for an attacker to succeed.

Already using EMET? Get support or join the EMET forum.

My antivirus software won’t remove malware

October 17th, 2013 No comments

Windows Defender and Microsoft Security Essentials (antivirus software from Microsoft) can detect and remove most malware. If you’re running antivirus software and you’re still having trouble removing malware, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure you have automatic updating turned on. This feature ensures that you have the latest security improvements from Microsoft installed on your computer. If you’re using other antivirus software, make sure that it is up to date with the latest malware definitions.
  2. Manually update your security software, reboot your computer, and run a full scan.
  3. Check our malware encyclopedia for known issues with the malware and any additional cleaning instructions.

For more information about how to troubleshoot this problem, see My security software detects this malware but won’t remove it.

3 ways to speed up your PC

October 15th, 2013 No comments

Here are three ways to speed up a sluggish computer.

1.       Scan your computer for viruses

If your computer is slow or restarts often, it could be infected with a virus or other malicious software.

If you have Windows 8, you can use the built-in Windows Defender to help you get rid of a virus or other malware. If you have Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP, scan your computer with the Microsoft Safety Scanner. Or get help at the Virus and Security Solution Center.

For more information, see How to avoid and remove computer viruses.

2.       Turn on automatic updating

One of the easiest things you can do to speed up your PC is to make sure that your operating system and software are kept up to date. Learn how to get security updates automatically.

Is your computer sluggish, or is it just your web browser? The newest version of Internet Explorer is Internet Explorer 10. It’s included with Windows 8, and you can download it for free for other versions of Windows. Learn more about security in Internet Explorer 10.

 

3.       Upgrade your operating system

If you’re still using Windows XP, you could speed up your PC by upgrading to Windows 8 or Windows 7.

Support for Windows XP ends on April 8, 2014. You can get solutions to your Windows XP security issues now, but not for too much longer. If you’re still using Windows XP, you’re missing out on all kinds of security, productivity, and performance enhancements available in Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Find out what end of support for Windows XP means to you.

If your computer is still slow, you can try limiting how many programs run at start up, deleting software and files you don’t need, or following these additional tips to speed up your PC.

Get free or paid support for your malware problem

September 24th, 2013 No comments

Is your computer running slowly? Are programs starting unexpectedly? Is the activity light on your broadband or external modem constantly lit? Does it sound like your computer’s hard disk is continually working?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your computer might be infected with malware.

Scan your PC for viruses

If you suspect that your computer has a virus, you can download the Microsoft Safety Scanner. The Microsoft Safety Scanner is a free downloadable security tool that provides on-demand scanning and helps remove viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Download the Microsoft Safety Scanner

Get help from the Microsoft forums

If you’ve scanned your computer and you can’t get rid of the virus, you might be able to get free help from the Microsoft Community. Check out the Viruses and Malware forum.

Get help from a Microsoft Answer Tech for $99

If you want to pay for help, a Microsoft Answer Tech can help track down viruses, malware, and spyware.  

Chat with an Answer Tech now

Safety is an active verb

When we are young, we are taught to brush our teeth in order to develop healthy and preventative habits.  Hopefully by the time we reach adulthood, the act of brushing every morning has become second nature.  Yet, when we go online, we don’t always take the same preventative measures with our personal information.  Perhaps it’s because we haven’t placed enough importance on developing this healthy habit?

Today, Microsoft released the US results of the third Microsoft Computing Safety Index (MCSI).   Designed to gauge consumer online safety habits and behaviors, the Index reveals that the US score has decreased year-after-year since it was first launched in 2011.  

So why the drop?  The data reveals that while people are not necessarily engaging in risky behaviors, they miss active steps to thwart socially-engineered risks.  For example; in 2011, 60 percent of respondents reported using only reputable sites compared to 39 percent in 2013.   In addition, less than half of US respondents are still not taking actions such as limiting the amount of personal information they share online, dropping from 48 percent in 2011, to 40 percent in 2013.  Nor are they using phishing filters to help stay safer, 30 percent in 2011 compared to only 18 percent in 2013.  On average, US respondents are using less than one quarter of the 12 technical tools available for managing online safety, are being used.

The good news: default settings are keeping consumers safer than they realize.  While US respondents report using only half of the foundational settings (automatic updates, antivirus software, firewall protections, secured wireless, up-to-date software), after checking, most actually are better protected than they thought (almost four out of five).

Broken out into three tiers of activity – “Foundational,” “Technical+,” and “Behavioral” – the Index assigns a point scale of 0 to 100 based on an individual’s answers.  The more steps taken in any given tier, the higher the score.

Didn’t participate in the formal survey?  We’ve created an abbreviated version so you can see how you measure up.  Go to www.microsoft.com/security/mcsi and take stock of your personal online habits and practices to learn how you compare to US respondents.    

Just like looking both ways before crossing the street, it’s never too late to begin developing safer online habits. Microsoft suggests these top three tips to help people worldwide stay safer online – at home, at work, and on the go.

  • Protect your computer and your accounts.  Keep all software (including your browser) current with automatic updating and install legitimate antivirus and antispyware software.

  • Look for signs that a webpage is secure and legitimate. Before you enter sensitive data, check for evidence of encryption, meaning a web address with https (“s” stands for secure), and a closed padlock beside it. (The lock might also be in the lower right corner of the window.)

  • Reduce spam in your inbox. Share your primary email address and instant messaging name only with people you know in person and with reputable organizations. Avoid listing them on your social network page, in Internet directories (like white pages), or on job-posting sites.

No matter where or how people access the Internet, exercising safer digital habits needs to remain part of our daily routine.   For additional guidance, regularly check our Safety & Security Center, where all of our tools and materials are located, including our Digital Citizenship in Action Toolkit. “Like” our page on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.  Get proactive and get involved – in online safety.  

Check security settings in Windows Vista

September 3rd, 2013 No comments

The newest version of Windows is Windows 8, but we know that many of you still use Windows Vista.

The best way to ensure that Windows Vista is as secure as it can be is to use the Windows Security Center, which is built into Windows Vista.

The Windows Security Center can help you check the status of several security features on your computer, including firewall settings, Windows automatic updating, anti-malware software settings, Internet security settings, and User Account Control settings.

To get to the Window Security Center, click the Start button , click Control Panel, click Security, and then click Security Center. If Windows detects a problem (for example, if your antivirus program is out of date), Security Center displays a notification and places a Security Center icon  in the notification area. Click the notification or double-click the Security Center icon to open Security Center and get information about how to fix the problem.

Download Microsoft Security Essentials

Windows 8 comes with Windows Defender to help protect your PC from viruses and other kinds of malware.

For Windows Vista, you can download Microsoft Security Essentials to help guard against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Get more security information for Windows Vista