They often spread without any apparent contact and can be a hassle, or even worse, fatal to your PC. Many times, they don't have a particular goal in your mind, so nobody is safe. Should you access the world wide web, share files or your computer with other people, or load anything from diskettes, CDs, or DVDs onto your computer, you're vulnerable to viruses.
Luckily, there are good guys working just as hard as the hackers to develop cures for viruses as quickly as they send them off to cyberspace. And there are lots of things that you can do to keep your computer from catching viruses in the first location.
Defining Viruses :-
A virus is a small computer program that can replicate and spread itself from 1 computer to another, with or without the support of the user. Many times, they can't deliver their payload until an unsuspecting user does something to make the virus execute its programmed function. This might be as straightforward as clicking on an innocent looking file attachment with all the .exe (executable) extension.
Many viruses are spread through email attachments because it is the simplest means to do it. Due to the prevalence of the program, hackers get maximum bang for their buck, and they probably get some satisfaction from continually reminding Microsoft that being big does not mean that you're perfect.
1: Antivirus Software
Your first line of defense would be to set up anti-virus applications. To be extra safe, also install firewall software, which is currently included in certain anti-virus packages. This program can scan all your drives for viruses and neutralize them. Below are a few features to look at when assessing antivirus applications.
- Compatibility with your operating system - make sure that the program works together with your system, especially if you're using an older operating system such as Windows 98.
- Firewall software - If it is not included, find out if it is accessible. If you have to, buy it from a different seller.
- Automatic background protection - This means your software will constantly scan behind the scenes for infections and neutralize them as they look. This gives some reassurance.
- Automatic, frequent updates - Because new viruses appear daily, you'll want normal updates. It is even better if they occur automatically once you connect to the world wide web. If automatic updating is not included, you will need to check the seller's site and download updates yourself. This can be vitally important, since you won't be protected from new viruses if your software is out of date.
- Disaster recovery - Software with a recovery utility that will assist you get your system back to normal after a virus attack is always best to have.
- ICSA certification - The International Computer Security Associatioin has standards for the detection levels of anti virus applications. Ensure that your software has the ICSA certification.
- Technical support - it is a fantastic idea to pick a package that provides free technical assistance, either online or via a toll-free telephone amount. If you're ever felled by a virus, then you might require it. Some antivirus applications vendors are Symantec Corporation (Norton Antivirus), McAfee Corporation (McAfee Virus Scan), Trend Micro Inc. (PC-cillin), and Zone Labs Inc. (Zone Alarm Suite). Our professional choice is McAfee. McAfee Corporation provides excellent customer support for McAfee antivirus. The user's of McAfee antivirus can avail the support using McAfee Antivirus Phone Number over telephone or through mail. They have a highly professional customer support team. Norton also has great client support. Moreover each one of the antivirus software company makes support available.
2: The Virus Scan
If you get a particularly juicy attachment that you're dying to open, save it in your Windows desktop and run your anti virus software on it . To do so, click once gently on the file on your desktop... do not actually open it... then right click and choose Scan with (Name of Anti-Virus Software) to activate a virus scan.
If it's infected, your antivirus software may neutralize it, or tell you that the attachment is too dangerous to start. On the flip side, do not feel guilty if the extremely considered saving a potentially damaging file anywhere on your system is enough to quell your eagerness to open it and make you delete it instantly.
3: Delete first, ask questions afterwards
When in doubt about the source of an email, the ideal thing to do is delete it without previewing or opening it. But some viruses, such as Klez, propagate by fishing in people's address books and sending themselves from any contact they find to another random contact. You can spread a virus just by having people in your address book, even in the event that you don't actually email anything. They'll get it from somebody else in your address book, which really makes life more confusing. Due to the proliferation of pornography on the world wide web, e mail viruses often tempt victims by using sexual filenames, for example nudes.exe. Do not fall for this.
You could be tempted to believe them because you typically receive them from well-meaning friends, who received them from friends, etc.. All these e-mails themselves usually are not viruses, but some have actually fallen into the hands of hackers who loaded them with viruses and forwarded them merrily on their way as a sick joke.
Consider it, if you follow an email that informs you to forward it to everybody on your address book, and they THEY do it, and this goes on long enough, you can bring the world wide web to its knees. Should you ever need to verify a virus warning, your antivirus vendor might have a list of hoaxes on it website. It is in the company of providing the fixes, so it is going to know which viruses are real.
Windows now defaults to hiding filename extensions, but it is not a fantastic idea. Just having the ability to see a suspicious extension and deleting the file before opening it can save you from a virus disease.
To see filename extensions in all your directory listings, on the Windows XP desktop, click on Start button | Control Panels | Folder Options | View Tab. Click on Apply | OK. System files will nevertheless be hidden, but you will have the ability to see extensions for all the documents you have to be concerned with. Viruses often live on files with these extensions - .vbs, .shs, .pif, .Ink - and they're almost never legitimately used for attachments.
4: Disable the .shs expansion
1 dangerous extension you can easily disable is .shs. Windows will not recognize it and will alert you before trying to start an .shs file. The extension is usually just used for"scrap object" files created in Word and Excell when you highlight text and drag it to the desktop for pasting into other files. If that is not something you do, or you've got Word and Excell 2000 or later, which allow you to have 12 items on the Clipboard, click on the Start button | Control Panel | Folder Options | File Types tab. Click Publish | Yes | Apply | OK.
After you turn on your extensions in Windows, you're going to have the ability to detect viruses which piggy-back themselves onto innocent looking files with a double extension, for example happybirthday.doc.exe.
5: Beware of unknown .exe documents
A virus is a program that has to be executed to do its dirty work, so it might have an. exe extension. Sadly, this is the identical extension used by legitimate program files. Thus, don't worry if you find files named Word.exe or Excel.exe on your system - they're your Microsoft software. Just do not EVER open any file with the. Exe extension if you don't understand what the document's purpose is.
Viruses in attachment files have been known to assume the shape of familiar looking icons of text or image files, like the wolf in the hen house. If you get an unexpected attachment, do not open it without first running it through your antivirus applications.
6: Do not download from public newgroups
What better place for a hacker to lurk and stick his virus than in the center of a bunch? Sooner or later, somebody's bound to get it and get the virus going. Do not download files and programs from newsgroups or bulletin boards, or open attachments sent from strangers in chatrooms ("Let's exchange pictures!") Without first scanning with your antivirus applications.
This might look like a no brainer, but sometimes that tiny price tag on a popular but expensive package can be too great to resist. Resist it! Additionally, be careful about accepting application software from others. You do not know where it has already been, and what might have started out as a perfectly clean package could have become infected during installation on someone else's infected computer.
A frequent type of virus uses macros. Macros are sets of stored commands that users can save as shortcuts to perform long functions in only a couple of keystrokes. To be sure yours is activated, open each application, then click Tools menu | Macro | Security. Clcik OK. If you're already infected with a macro virus, you might realize that the measures of the process are inaccessible because the virus has disabled them. In that event, run a virus scan on your system to find out whether your antivirus applications can destroy the virus.
Should you share your computer, it is a fantastic idea to assign everyone a password. Passwords ought to be a combination of numbers and letters no less than eight characters long, and rather silly. Never write passwords and stick them anywhere near the pc. To assign passwords in Windows XP, click on the Start button | Control Panel | User Accounts.
But don't be lulled into complacency if you have Windows Update automatically checking things for you. Update checks for patches to fix bugs in the operating system, not to safety issues.
To find the most recent security hotfixes (as Microsoft calls them), see http://www.microsoft.com and look for hotfixes for all of your Microsoft software, particularly Outlook and Outlook Express.
Microsoft also has a free downloadable package named Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer (MBSA) that scans your system for missing hotfixes. It does not support Windows 95, 98, or ME.
To download the MBSA, go to the TechNet section of the Microsoft Site. Be cautioned that the information is written in techie language, so you could find it daunting.
Final Words :-
Now you know some ways for avoiding and dealing with viruses, let's wrap things up with some solution you have likely heard before but have ignored.
- Back up your files regularly - If a virus crashes your system, you will feel far better if you have backup copies of your important files. Make the backup copies on a media that is separate from the computer, like on diskettes, CDs, or zip disks. Scan them for viruses before you put them away to be certain that they aren't infected. If they're, they will do you no good if you have to use them because they will just transmit the virus right back on your PC.
- Create a boot disk - Create an emergency boot diskette before you've got a problem so that you can begin your computer after a serious security problem to create a boot diskette with Windows XP, put a blank floppy disk in your drive. Open My Computer, then right click the floppy disk. Click on Format. Under Format options, click Create an MS-DOS startup disc. Click on Start. Keep the disk in a secure location. With luck, you will not ever have to utilize it.
- Turn off you computer - DSL and cable connections that are"always on" may be handy, but you should always switch your computer off when its not being used. Hackers can not get into a machine that's powered off.
So this was all about the various ways to protect your PC/Laptop from various online threats.
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