(A basic primer on HOW to keep your computer virtually virus free)
As we continue into the 21st century, the problem of computer virus attacks will NOT go away. This is to HELP you keep from getting attacked, but in NO WAY can keep you 100% virus free. NOTHING can do that .. but 99% is a pretty good figure!! IF you follow these basic COMMON SENSE steps, you should be able to go through your computer life feeling a little more confident about getting or surviving a virus attack.
(BTW, those that use Mac computers have a MUCH higher immunity to these attacks, as MOST are targeted at the Windows operating system.)
First, How a virus gets into your machine:
There are THREE primary ways that almost ALL virus enter your computer.
THE FIRST is through eMail .. and yes, those nice little notes you get from your friends, relatives, and acquaintances are included in this category.
THE SECOND is through COPIED program disks. (this USED to be the PRIMARY source .. no longer that way) .. The disks your child brings home from school to use on YOUR computer .. the copy (read that pirated) of a GAME or SOFTWARE that some FRIEND(?) gives you so that you can use it on your machine, are just two of those sources.
THE THIRD is off of the web itself. Downloaded files from a web site that you DO NOT KNOW IS SECURE .. Downloading or opening files on the USENET (newsgroups) (This, BTW, is where a LOT of virus code hackers TEST their programs, believe it or not!)
Now to discuss the ounce of prevention methods.
(First, a disclaimer: There are many things that will follow that are meant to be GUIDES .. NOT WRITTEN IN STONE .. especially when it comes to program recommendations .. find what works for YOU!!)
GET A VIRUS PROTECTION PROGRAM INSTALLED ON YOUR COMPUTER NOW!!
The two best known COMMERCIAL programs are McAffee Virus Scan and Norton Anti Virus. BOTH of these programs have been around for a long time, and are considered reliable by most that use them, although there is a constant debate as to which is the better of the two .. (and the debate will continue LOL!!)
For Network/Commercial (Windows NT or 2000) applications, the most commonly recommended program seems to be Cheyenne AV, which is a COMBINED security package from Computer Associates.
There are some share ware and free ware anti virus programs, too. BUT, these DO NOT offer technical support (albeit, the tech support at Norton and McAffee, leaves a bit to be desired) .. at LEAST they DO offer support.
There is (right now) a WEB based scan support for a thorough check .. but you can't use that for scanning NEW items you wish to OPEN in your machine .. the outfit DOES offer a RESIDENT (installed) program, too. The web based scan can be found at: www.housecall.antivirus.com , and their INSTALLED program is PCCillin, which, by all reports, is a GOOD program, AND can be installed WITH either Norton or McAffee ON the machine!!
ALL virus programs installed MUST be updated on a VERY regular basis. The "recommended" update is once a week .. but twice a week is even BETTER. Norton offers an "Auto" update notification feature, McAffee DOES NOT .. theirs must be done MANUALLY from the desktop.
There is one more program that merits discussion .. a MAIL CHECK ONLY program called Virus Catcher available at www.vcatch.com. The program is small and FREE and is SELF updating upon boot up. It just screens MAIL, and can work up to four mail servers (platforms) including Eudora's at the SAME time.
And, finally, for the DSL users and Cable users .. INSTALL a FIREWALL!! (this CAN also be of help to dial up, too) This will keep people from PROBING your computer to gain information WHEN you are ON LINE .. and, as DSL and Cable are ALWAYS ON LINE when powered up .. this is a MUST for them!! There are both commercial and free ware/share ware programs out there available for this. ONE free ware that comes highly recommended is Zone Alarm available at www.zdnet.com. (search: zonealarm) (this program is self updating upon bootup.)
(And now to) C.Y.A.
These are the MOST recommended procedures to keep those NASTIES from getting into your computer that SLIDE by all of the protection you now have installed.
NEVER run a COPY of ANYTHING on your machine without FIRST scanning it with your virus program!! (THIS RULE IS SET IN STONE!!)
NEVER do a "Open in Place" of a downloaded file .. SAVE it and SCAN it BEFORE you OPEN it .. and OPEN IT in a SEPARATE area on your hard drive (create it's OWN file) so it can be SCANNED easily. Even some of the usually "safe" sites HAVE had virus files imbedded into some of their downloaded programs.
NEVER open an UNSOLICITED eMail "attachment"!!! (This is ESPECIALLY true If you DO NOT know the sender at all, no matter HOW tempting it may be.) NEVER, NEVER, NEVER (did I say NEVER?) (even if it is from your MOTHER!!)
Unless they have TOLD you that THEY have put an attachment to their eMail. (the reason for this is, the sender COULD be infected and NOT know it!!) If they say they sent one attachment, and there is TWO .. DON'T OPEN EITHER ATTACHMENT!! (IF they have NOT told you there is an attachment .. eMail them back ASKING if they put on an attachment. If so, then you can scan it and open it .)
(to help get by this problem, get into the habit of putting the NUMBER of attachments you put on the eMail and the TITLES of the attachments in the first portion of the body of your message .. and get all you know to do the same.)
IF you are a user of the USENET .. (the news groups) .. NEVER click on an EXECUTABLE type file! (for a definition of "executable" type file, check your Windows Help file or your Windows manual) (these are files that require your computer to "DO" something to make the file work!!)
Feel free to copy and paste this post .. maybe even send it to your friends!! After all, the more that are VIRUS protected, the less damage done!!