Protecting against viruses

Protect yourself, your company, and your friends against viruses!

Just like a human being can catch a virus, from relatively harmless ones such as a flu to fatal ones such as HIV, your computer is just as vulnerable to a virus. Unfortunately, there are some elements out there that take pleasure in destruction and wreaking havoc and making other people’s lives miserable. No, I am not talking about Darth Maul, I am referring to virus programmers.

A virus is a malicious piece of code written and designed to enter your PC without your permission and unnoticed. It will then replicate itself and/or possibly cause serious damage to your files and your PC. A virus can come in many forms but they usually come attached to a file, e.g. hidden in Word macros or embedded in executable files or attached to an e-mail, or in the boot sector of a disk.

Once the infected file or disk is introduced to your system, the virus can spread by attaching itself to files on your drives, or by sending infected e-mails to people in your address book. The Internet is a great environment for a virus to spread as downloading and e-mailing and exchanging files and information is common practice. If programmed to do so, the virus will not only spread but also cause damage to your system, such as, but not limited to, deleting files, deleting hard drive boot records resulting in an unbootable system, or erasing CMOS information.

This is a serious threat and should not be taken lightly. Almost every week, a new virus strikes and brings productivity to a grinding halt. The consequences are serious. For a home user, it often results in lost data and a lot of mad friends who received the virus from you. For businesses, a virus can bring down the entire network, often resulting in hours and days without e-mail or online access, corrupted or lost data, productivity loss, etc. Viruses have caused much damage and cost businesses and government agencies billions of dollars in time and money in an effort to recover from a virus attack. Don’t think that you are immune to a virus. Nobody is.

What can we all do to prevent this from happening?

The solution to the problem is two-fold. To prevent virii from spreading, companies install virus scanner software on their mail servers, and home users install virus scanners on their home PCs. Most virus scanning software can be bought in stores for a price, but why pay if there are free alternatives? See the “Security” category of our download section at downloads/security.html for links to several free antivirus solution. Another alternative is to scan your PC online by visiting Trend Micro’s web site, but this option does not offer permanent resident virus protection.

Of course any virus scanner can only work if you have the latest virus definition files installed. These virus definition files, also called DAT files, are being updated on a weekly or even more frequent basis by the maker of each virus scanner software. But it is up to you to download them regularly and update your PC. Most virus scanners either have a feature that let you schedule automatic downloads of new DAT files so that you don’t have to worry about it, or at least offer an easy press-one-button way of doing so. Remember, if your virus scanner does not have the latest DAT files and doesn’t know about the virus, it can’t catch it.

However, the makers of virus scanners are always a step behind since they can’t update their DAT files until they have seen the virus and know how to deal with it. Therefore there is usually a time gap from several hours to several days between the appearance of the virus in the wild and when the cure in the form of new DAT files is available. Since no virus scanner can protect you in that time period, it is up to you to prevent the virus from getting to you. Next Page: Some virus protection advice >>.

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