Protecting Yourself with an Anti-Virus

Viruses can be incredibly dangerous for LGBTQ+ organizations.

This is why you need a “digital vaccination” with tools to protect you against malicious software, which is often referred to as “malware.” 

What is phishing? 

A word to describe emails and websites that trick you into giving away private information.  

What is ransomware and what are risks associated with it?

Ransomware happens when a virus encrypts your files, and the attacker then demands a ransom to restore access to the data. This is a significant threat to the LGBTQ+ community, especially for people who are not out. There are simple measures you can take to avoid this situation!

In the eventuality that you do fall victim to ransomware, scroll to the bottom of this page to learn more on what you can do.

How do I get a free anti-virus software for my Windows-based PC?

Check out Malwarebytes (links for: Windows, Mac, Android). For anyone who uses Linux, Clam AV is a great antivirus. It can clean your device free of charge. That said, protecting your device (one computer) will cost $39.99 per year.

+ multi-factor authentication is a very effective way to protect against phishing. Check out the page on this website about 2FA.

Do your best to ensure that you are running the latest version of your operating system and web browser. Updated software should contain all the latest security patches.

5 common ways to get/avoid a virus: 

  • Email attachments that are infected. Make sure that you know and trust the sender! Never download and execute programs from unfamiliar sources.

  • Be careful of opening PDF files, as PDF readers are a common exploit target.

  • Links in emails or messages via social media. Don’t click unless you’re sure it’s a trust-worthy link.

  • Erroneous links: please read URLs in links contained in emails, since that’s a very effective way to identify phishing. Lots of phishing attacks will use slightly modified but somewhat obvious modifications of popular domains (like or by using similar-looking characters such as capital I instead of lowercase L).

  • Virus Total is a very good free tool that anyone can use to scan files for viruses before you open them.

  • Removable drives: try to avoid them, as they may be infected. If you must use one, scan the USB flash drive (it’ll ask you upon connecting it). Yes, it takes a little bit of time but it’s worth it!

  • Apps can also contain malware, so make sure to only download apps from the official Android app store (not a third-party). 

  • Outdated operating systems and applications. Make sure to get the latest version of apps on your computer or cell phone.

I’ve fallen victim to ransomware. What do I do?

  • Consider how sensitive the information that may have been present on your device is. If you are able and willing to, paying the ransom may be a reasonable decision to make. Attackers have a reputation to uphold here: if they get a reputation for not following through with their promises to return/decrypt data, no one would pay them.
  •  Completely wipe and replace the hardadrive or Solid State Drive (SSD) on your device. If this isn’t possible, the device should simply be replaced and never used again.  Go ahead and destroy the harddrive before throwing the device out.