Virus Protection


Computer Virus Protection

Computer viruses are here to stay and are getting ever more sophisticated. There are, however, steps we can all take to provide a measure of protection from such intrusions.


1. Learn how to recognize a high-risk message in your mailbox and delete it before it causes harm.

Not All Files Are What They Seem To Be


2. One of the more common ways for viruses to spread is through attachments to email. If an attachment is in any way suspicious, don’t open it. A legitimate attachment can always be resent. Look especially for files with two or more extensions or files with “.vbs”, “.exe”, “.com”, or ”.lnk” extensions.


3. Go to the “View” menu in Outlook Express and select “Layout”. On that page, there is a box that is titled “Show Preview Pane”. If you uncheck the box and click on “Apply” the Preview Pane disappears from the mail window. That keeps a message from opening when you select it in the list. You can then select a message and delete it without ever opening it. To open a message, double-click on it and it will open in a new window. Other mail clients have similar selections in different places. You should find them and turn off the preview.


4. The other most common way to get a virus is to unknowingly download it from an Internet site, along with something else. People who use the Internet for legitimate research or business applications will usually not encounter this type of attack because the places you visit on the Web are themselves well protected. Teenagers, on the other hand, visit lots of sketchy places on the Web, and they are at great risk of downloading this sort of virus. Parents are urged to install anti-virus software that will check files as they are being downloaded and remove many of the viruses before they can attack your machine.


5. Many viruses install themselves in the Temporary Items and Cookies folders on your computer. Regularly emptying these folders will remove those infections, often before they get established. My position is that, if it says it’s temporary, it doesn’t need to be there. Note that Temp files are used for legitimate purposes as well, so if one is busy, and won’t delete, that’s not necessarily a problem.    There is one Temp folder in the Windows Directory. Delete everything in there.   There are two others (in Win XP) in the hidden folder called “Local Settings”, which is found in Documents and Settings\[your name]. The folders are called “Temp” and Temporary Internet Files”.  I delete everything in both folders.   Your “Cookies” folder is in “Documents and Settings\[your name]. Delete everything in there as well.


6. If you can’t find the temp folders, you can go to Internet Explorer, open “Internet Options” under the “Tools” menu and delete all the Cookies and Internet files it will let you delete.


7. Use anti-virus software! The major vendor products will all protect against email intrusions and other viral activities, but you have to keep them current. If you have a full-time Internet connection, you can do updates daily and automatically. If you have a dial-up connection, you should do them every few days at least. This service costs about $40/yr from the makers of the software, which is about $.80/week. A cup of coffee costs more and does less for your business! It will cost a LOT more when a technician comes in to manually remove a virus.


8. No anti-virus software is 100% effective, and all need daily updates to stay ahead of the people in the world who have nothing to do but write more viruses (or other “malware”, as it’s now called). Regular scans of your entire computer, and dealing with the problem as soon as it looks like a virus might have made it into your machine, will make infections less likely and cleanup both faster and less expensive.




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