Computer Virus Prevention

This article will help give you tools for powerful immunization against computer viruses and prevent you from being another victim!

No matter what your circumstances were, whether you were annoyed or infected, panicked or fascinated, the Love Bug virus took over the world's computers by storm. Email systems were clogged, files disappeared, and users were left stumped about the fact that they, somehow, had been fooled again. Why didn't we learn from the Melissa virus? (Then again, who can resist love?) The clever disguise of the virus took many people by surprise. The ingenuity as well as the rate the virus spread left computers infected and anti-virus websites overloaded.

What went wrong? With all the talk and hype about virus protection, how could we have been fooled again? Some people simply downloaded the email because it was from a known source. Others blamed Microsoft because the virus was able to spread quickly through the "Preview" feature of Outlook's email. Although many companies and individuals subsequently disabled this feature, several days later, the "New Love" came around, and computers again were assaulted with a more potent, angrier virus.

Modern Communication Woes

Like the telephone, email is one of the quickest and most convenient forms of communication today. We send them through the office, to our children, and to our clients. We use it because it is quick and easy. We have electronic address books instead of little black books.

Email frauds commit their crimes in a way similar to con artists who commit their crimes over the telephone. How many times have you gotten a phone call from a strange source, asking you for money or personal information? When you asked them to verify their company and you would call them back, did they back off? Con artists over the phone seek to gain your trust. Creators of email viruses prey on you by claiming to be from somebody that they're not. The good news is, you really don't have to be a victim, if you're armed with the right information.

Arm Your Computer

Anti-Virus software is a necessity nowadays. If you don't have it, now is the best time to shop for it! In lieu of the recent virus attacks, many of anti-virus companies are giving away free 30-day-trials. (Just remember the deal is much sweeter when you're downloading it before your computer catches a virus!) You can shop around on the Internet for the best deals; the three major players are Dr. Solomon's, McAfee's Virus Shield and Norton Antivirus. Be sure that the operating system you're using, such as Windows '95, is compatible with the program you choose. Once you get your software, make sure you update it at least once a week, and that you have it set to scan for viruses when your computer boots up. Most of these programs have an "autoupdate" feature that you can schedule to automatically update your software any time the computer is on, even if you're not home. If a particularly notorious virus has been released recently, update it daily for about a week. It may be a pain, but it's worth it; Symantec, the creator of Norton Antivirus, estimates that over 5 new viruses are created a day. Two days after the Love Virus was released, over 29 variations of were in circulation.

Update your other software regularly as well. Microsoft released a "patch" in response to the Love Virus transmission. Software companies such as Microsoft are constantly discovering new security holes and fixes for bugs in their software. If you're a registered software user, then you can get these fixes for free by visiting the website or calling their technical support phone number. In addition to giving you added virus protection, these security patches help your programs run more smoothly in the long run.



For added protection, and to save a lot of frustration in the long run, it's a good idea to have a backup of your computer files, just to be on the safe side. A Zip drive is a great tool for this, but if you don't want to spend the cash, there are lots of "servers" on the Internet that help you to backup and store files. You can try one for thirty days free at www.ebackup.com. In addition to backing up your files, you should also check your hard drive to make sure that your computer program files (such as .exe and .com) are "read-only." (Your operating system manual has instructions if you're not sure how to check the Properties.) If a computer virus tries to access them, you'll get a message to tip you off that the computer is trying to change the file.

Email Precautions

Of course, the easiest way to prevent a virus is to not engage in the activity that causes it to spread. If you're not willing or able to give up your email entirely, there are a few guidelines to make your email use a lot safer.

Don't download files from strangers. That being said, if you're at work, it's probably safe to say that you shouldn't (and aren't allowed) to download files from personal emails at all. If you simply must read the attachment, however, download it to a floppy disk to be on the safe side, then scan it with your anti-virus software. This is the safest way to handle downloads because the file is not accessible from a network drive or your hard disk.

Debunk Email Hoaxes

Be leery of forwarded messages, despite the good intentions. If you get a virus warning sent to you, make sure to check your software provider's website to make sure it's accurate. Many people ignored the "Love Bug" warnings simply because of the amount of virus hoaxes circulating the Internet. Every day, a well-meaning friend of mine sends me an obnoxious, forwarded email claiming that by forwarding it, either I'll get money, she'll get money, or some suffering child will get money. It goes out probably to 500 people a day in our email circle alone. "Well, I don't know if this is true or not, but it doesn't hurt to try!" is usually how the email begins. This kind of "crying wolf" does hurt because it takes up a lot of our time and keeps us from more important, accurate information.

As the Internet becomes our main gateway for communication, more viruses will infect more computers until we, as consumers, learn to arm ourselves with knowledge and prevention. Although there is no way for you to protect your computer 100% from infection, you can at least rest a little easier knowing that you're protected, and you can have a back-up plan in case your computer is destroyed by "Love." When three versions of the "It's-Not-You-It's-Me" virus show up in your email, you'll know that you're armed and dangerous against the virus that brought it.

© High Speed Ventures 2011