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Anti Virus Protection    Back

Keep Your Computer Safe From Viruses

This article is devoted to keeping your computer safe from Viruses. We all have heard the stories, purchased the software, and received the e-mail. This page is designed to give you basic information on what can and can't be done to your computer, and how to get real information instead of the hyped-up hoaxes so prevalent on the Internet.

First of all, we recommend AVG for all home & business Internet security. In our opinion AVG uses less resources than other Anti Virus software. You can specify how often you want to get virus definition updates (daily is normally sufficient) & schedule how often you want to run a full computer scan, which runs in the background while you get on with other tasks.

How Viruses Spread

Viruses can spread in one of two ways:

• Someone can install it on your computer without your knowledge
• You can install it on your computer without your knowledge.

I will really only be addressing the second method, since there's only one obvious solution to the first option: Don't let people who can't be trusted use your computer. So now let's look at how the second thing can happen.

There are not too many of us that would install a virus on our computers purposely. Usually, people are tricked into installing viruses on their computers. How does this happen? People open attachments on e-mail. Are you one of those people who opens every attachment you get in e-mail? If so, you probably already have a virus. And if you don't, just wait. You're practicing the most unsafe computing practice there is... Opening e-mail from multiple partners without protection.

E-mail viruses spread by sending themselves to other people in the address book of the infected computer and making itself look like a cutesy e-mail. Remember the "I Love You" virus? So many people got suckered into that virus because they had the poor computing habit of opening e-mail attachments from anyone who sent it to them. As soon as that attachment was opened, the computer was infected. As soon as that happens, the virus sends a copy of itself to everyone in the address book. As soon as they open it, it infects their computer and sends a copy of itself to everyone in their address book, etc... You can see the incredible explosive growth of this virus because people open e-mail attachments.

Even more dangerous is a targeted attack. There is a type of virus called a "Trojan Horse" that basically gives the sender of the virus control of your computer. A few years back, this was done by "silkroping" the virus in another program. Here's how it happened:

Virus guy wants to send you a Trojan. What he does is send you a cute little program to install (Wack-A-Mole was popular a few years back). When you install it, another program is also installed secretly... THE VIRUS! You got tricked into installing a virus into your own computer and now the virus sender can actually control your computer from his own computer. He can see your screen, take over your mouse, eject your CD-ROM, even shut your computer down. This is a real bummer. But it's your own fault for opening e-mail attachments!

So how do you keep yourself from getting infected?? Simple! The same way you keep yourself from getting rabies: Don't play with animals in the wild, some are infected.

How To Keep Your Computer Safe

This is simple: DON'T OPEN ATTACHMENTS IN E-MAIL UNLESS YOU SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED IT! If you continue to open every silly little attachment you get in your inbox, the question is not if, but when you will be infected with a virus. So you are using e-mail to send pictures back and forth with family and you couldn't possibly live another day without opening attachments? OK, well, here's a few pointers for those of you who just HAVE to open your attachments:

• NEVER open an attachment from someone you don't know. That's plain stupid.
• NEVER open an attachment from someone you do know who usually doesn't send you attachments- their computer may be infected and the virus just sent the attachment from their computer.
• NEVER open an attachment that can contain executable code: only open .jpg, .gif, .txt files- these cant' contain viruses... yet.

Virus E-mail Warnings and Other Hoaxes:

More than actual computer viruses, we receive computer virus hoaxes. These are letters that come from someone claiming to have a hot new scoop on a new virus. It usually comes in the form of:

"If you get an e-mail titled 'Something or the Other,' DO NOT OPEN IT!!! It is a Major new Virus announced by Microsoft and IBM on October 13. It erases all the information on your hard drive and will make your CPU overheat due to a redundant open cycling function in the code. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RECOVER FROM THIS VIRUS!

If you do get this virus in the mail, DELETE IT IMMEDIATELY! This virus is spreading superfast and will be announced on CNN tonight. SEND THIS WARNING TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!"

How can you tell if the e-mail you received is a Hoax? That's easy: They are ALL hoaxes. If a virus is spread around through e-mail, you'll get the virus before you get the e-mail to warn about it. The only e-mail warnings you should pass around are the ones that have a link to a respected website that gives information on a virus. If there's no link to a website that can verify the information, don't pass it along. Even better, reply to everyone on the list, tell them it's a hoax, and include a link to this page so they can learn how to spot and stop e-mail hoaxes.

Think about it. Have you EVER received an e-mail that warned you about a virus that was actually true? Nope, because there has never been a legitimate virus warning sent through e-mail. Unless you get info from your virus software company, don't believe it, it's fake. The e-mail itself is the virus, and it spreads by making people forward the message!! Many of the viruses out there simply clog the e-mail conduits in the Internet (like the "I LOVE YOU" virus) by sending around copies of itself to everyone in the computers' address book. What people don't understand is that by forwarding these e-mail, they are doing the same thing that the virus does! You become a virus when you send an e-mail to bunches of people. Bottom line? Never forward anything that says "FORWARD THIS!".

Here's the unwritten rules on forwarding e-mail:

• Never forward anything that claims you'll win one hundred million dollars for forwarding it
• Never forward anything that claims you'll die if you don't forward it
• Never forward anything that claims "please forward this to everyone you know"
• Never forward anything that claims to be tracking e-mail. That's impossible.
• Never forward anything that claims that you can get rich by simply forwarding things.
• Never forward anything that claims some kid will die if you don't forward it.
• Never forward anything that claims to be from the police, FBI or Microsoft.
• Never forward anything that claims to be a warning about a virus that NO-ONE has heard of (especially if it claims to be from the police, FBI or Microsoft)

And lastly:
Never forward anything to someone unless they would REALLY, REALLY, REALLY be mad if they didn't get it, AND you have verified personally that the information inside is legit.

That will cut down on the SPAM!! (spam is junk e-mail) Of course, if there was a huge e-mail virus going around, you'd hear it from the news before you heard it from Joe who heard it from Rick who heard it from Josh who heard it from Cindy who has a cousin with a friend that knows a guy who went to high school with a girl who's married to some guy at Microsoft who decided that the best way to tell the world about a virus was to contact a few friends and e-mail them and tell them to e-mail all of their friends.

If you get an e-mail that says it's really important and that you should forward it, then it's probably a fake, Especially e-mail warning about viruses... You should NEVER open an e-mail that says it's important even if it's coming from a friend. That's how many viruses spread as mentioned above.

And spread the good news!! The only thing to fear in e-mail is e-mail you haven't asked for!!! The above information is free... Forward this information to friends after you have checked it out. The Internet makes gossip easy to spread! There have been a few hoaxes in the past that have actually caused harm to companies like Proctor and Gamble because people got an e-mail and forwarded it without checking if it was legitimate first! Help contribute to the cause of stopping Internet chain letters, junk mail, and fake virus hoaxes by sharing LEGITIMATE information with your Internet e-mail list!!!

Avoiding Hacker Intrusion:

Like above, the first line of defense against getting hacked is not to open e-mail. The vast majority of hackers that attack private computers do so through easily accessed tools like Trojan horse viruses. So practice safe computing and don't install silly little programs people send you in e-mail. You're just waiting to get hacked if you do that!



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