Is your computer safe from viruses?


By: Bambi Turner

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Just as a cold or virus can wreak havoc with your body, a virus can turn your computer into a useless heap of metal and plastic. Fortunately, for every devious program dreamed up by hackers, there's a computer pro working hard to come up with a defense. Take our quiz to see if you know how to keep your computer safe!

When picking a password, how should it compare to all of your other passwords?

Far too many people use the same exact password for all online activities. While this reduces strain on your brain, it also makes life super easy for computer hackers, because once they crack your password they can access every single account you have. Experts recommend using a different password for each account to protect yourself.


What should you do when you've finished using a public computer, like one at the library?

Anytime you log into a public or shared computer, you put your personal data and passwords at risk. Always take the time to log out after you're done to help protect your accounts. Even better, avoid logging into personal or financial accounts on public computers at all, if possible.


What does encryption do?

Think of encryption as a secret code that computers use to send data securely. Instead of sending things like your credit card number in a way that anyone could understand, the computer translates the data to a special type of gibberish that only someone with a key can unlock.


What is junk email often referred to as?

You know those unsolicited emails promising to increase your manhood or whittle your waistline? That junk mail is generally known as spam. While it's almost impossible to prevent all spam messages from reaching your inbox, you can reduce the volume by using spam blockers built into most email services.


Which of these services is designed to protect your computer from viruses?

If you're only going to do one thing to protect your home computer, the most effective step you can take is to turn on a firewall, according to Microsoft. A firewall is a piece of software (or sometimes hardware) that keeps hackers out and helps to keep your computer healthy. Turning on the firewall is similar to making sure the door to your home is locked. You can find this feature in the settings menu of most modern computers.


What are phishers looking for?

Phishing via email is a common computer-based scheme where scammers steal your personal information by pretending to be reputable companies. By phishing, they are often able to score things like your personal passwords and bank information, which can allow them to access your online and financial accounts.


What's the minimum number of characters you should use to create a strong password?

Always use at least 8 characters when coming up with a password, and make sure to switch things up a bit by using both capital and lowercase letters, plus numbers and symbols.


What is the only way to ensure your computer is 100 percent safe from viruses?

Hackers are sneaky, so the only way to keep your computer completely safe is to stay in total isolation. That means never connecting to the internet or any network. It also means you can't use any kind of data-sharing, like a thumb drive, external hard drive or even an old-school floppy disk.


What rule of thumb do IT pros use when backing up data?

Computer pros rely on the famous rule of three when planning the best way to backup their data. This means that you should always have three copies of anything you want to keep. These backups should be in at least two different formats, and at least one backup should be kept off-site.


Which of these programs helps to block viruses and keep your computer healthy?

Antivirus programs are a type of software that help to protect your computer from viruses. Many modern computers have antivirus software built right in, but you can also find programs from reputable companies.


Which of these is a term for a computer virus disguised as a legitimate program?

A Trojan is one type of computer virus. It's named for the ancient Greeks, who hid inside a wooden horse to invade the city of Troy. Just like the Greeks, a Trojan virus hides behind a reputable name, like a villain wearing a disguise. Once it's installed on your computer, the virus wreaks havoc and may do anything from stealing your data to shutting down your entire system.


Which of these viruses runs in the background and sneakily spreads from computer to computer?

Worms are notorious viruses that are designed primarily to spread from computer to computer. They often show few signs of their presence, but you might have a worm if your computer seems suspiciously busy or slow.


Which kind of virus locks up your computer until you shell out cash to the bad guys?

Ransomware is a particularly devious computer virus. Using this software, a hacker takes over control of your computer and won't let you have it back until you pay a fee, or ransom.


What does it mean when you see "https" in the address bar for a site?

When you see "https" in the address bar, you should feel relatively safe providing personal information. This extra "s" indicates that the site has the highest level of security, which makes it more difficult for anyone to intercept your data.


Which of these should you avoid when reading email, in order to prevent viruses?

While it's technically possible to get a virus from simply reading an email, it's fairly unlikely to happen. You are much more vulnerable when you click on a link or open an attachment within an email. To protect yourself, examine links and attachments closely before you open them, and do not open them if they were sent by someone you don't know.


What's the best way to keep your computer updated?

Computer programmers and manufacturers are always discovering weaknesses that allow hackers to sneak into your computer. While companies regularly put out updates to remedy these weaknesses, they won't do you any good if you don't install them. Set your computer to receive automatic updates to ensure you are protected from the latest threats.


What is the cloud?

The cloud is a term used to describe a large network of servers that can store data. Although there are exceptions, the cloud is generally a safer place to store your data than whatever system you're using at home.


How can you protect your computer when using public Wi-Fi?

Public Wi-Fi, or hotspots, makes it easy for hackers to access your data and even plant viruses on your computer. Fortunately, you can protect yourself using a virtual private network, or VPN. Check your Wi-Fi settings before you log on and see if your computer has an option for a VPN -- it's not as difficult to set up as you might think.


Which of these skills is most important when it comes to avoiding scams and computer viruses?

The safest computer users aren't the ones with the strongest computer skills. Instead, they are the ones equipped with a healthy sense of suspicion or skepticism. If you get an email message claiming to be from a prince who wants to give you money, think twice before you hand over your banking information. Those who stop to think before taking actions online are those who avoid scams and computer viruses.


Which of these do you use to access the internet?

A browser -- like Chrome, Firefox, Safari or Internet Explorer -- is a program you use to access the internet. Just like your computer itself, your browser requires routine updates to keep you protected from viruses. The easiest way to do this is to adjust the settings for your browser to allow automatic updates from the manufacturer.


What is a cookie?

For the most part, cookies are totally innocent. They store small pieces of data on your computer to customize your browsing experience and are benign in most cases.


How does two-factor authentication impact your computer?

You know how you have to enter a password to access most online accounts? That's single-factor authentication. If you have to provide a second piece of data -- like a code sent to your email in addition to your password -- that's two-factor authentication. It makes your computer and your accounts safer and less likely to be infected by a virus. Many email providers and other programs offer this feature for those looking to boost security.


What is a home page?

When you open your browser, the first page that pops up is known as your home page. If you notice your home page has changed but you don't remember changing it, you may have a virus.


Which of these viruses monitors your online activities and tracks your data?

Spyware is a type of virus designed to run silently on your computer and spy on your activities. Using these programs, hackers can obtain all kinds of data, including your passwords and banking info.


Which of these is NOT necessarily a sign of a computer virus?

Pop-up ads are a fact of internet life -- unless you use pop-up blockers, but that's another story. If your computer suddenly becomes super slow, certain programs stop working or you notice weird changes, you could be infected with a virus.


Which of these is another word for an update?

Software and hardware manufacturers are always coming out with new patches, or updates. These patches serve as quick fixes for weaknesses that may make your computer vulnerable to viruses.


What are those little pictures on your desktop called?

Those little pictures you see on your computer screen are called icons, and each represents a program on your computer. If you suddenly spot new icons but you haven't installed any new programs, you may have a virus on your computer.


Which of these may signal a virus?

Your browser is meant to take you where you want to go online, so if it keeps taking you somewhere else, your computer may be infected with a virus.


What is the most common computer password in the U.S.?

Turns out, most users aren't all that creative when it comes to choosing a password. In fact, about 17 percent of all passwords consist of nothing more than 123456. The top 25 most common passwords, which include things like "password" and "111111," account for about half of all passwords used in the U.S.


Which of these is a sign that you have a virus?

If you find yourself suddenly slammed with tons of pop-up ads, you may have a virus -- especially if there are so many ads that you lose the ability to operate your computer.


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