Protecting yourself against viruses
- What steps can I take to safeguard myself against viruses?
- Beware email attachments!
Many viruses spread by sending
themselves as email attachments - as soon as you open the attachment, you have the
virus. Since these viruses email themselves from infected computers, most
of the time the email containing the virus will come from someone you know and trust, who is unknowingly
sending the virus out. Never open an email attachment unless you're sure the person
really meant to send it to you! A couple ways to check this are:
- Look for a personal message. Viruses don't know anything personal about you, so if the message mentions your kids by name, or talks about something you and
the sender did together last week, it's probably ok. If it
just says something general like "Take a look at the attachment", or
"I hope you like this file" don't open the attachment! Just delete the message.
- Check with the sender. If you're not sure about an attachment, send a message back to the person
asking if they really meant to send it. If they write back that they did,
it's ok. If not, your message may alert them that they have a virus.
- Use anti-virus software.
The two top
kinds of anti-virus software are Norton Anti-Virus and McAfee VirusScan. Norton is generally
considered to be the best. McAfee VirusScan Online is also available; however, it does much of its work via an internet connection. This makes it
less effective if you don't have a high speed connection, or don't spend a lot of time online.
- Keep your virus definitions up-to-date!
This cannot be emphasized enough.
You should update your virus definitions at least twice a month. The virus definitions tell your
anti-virus software how to recognize viruses so it can prevent them
from infecting your system. Experts estimate that 10-15 new viruses come out every day - if your
definitions are out-of-date, your software won't recognize recent viruses,
leaving you vulnerable. To update your definitions:
- In Norton Anti-Virus - Start Norton Anti-virus and click on the "LiveUpdate" button.
You will need to be connected to the Internet.
- In McAfee VirusScan - Start McAfee VirusScan and click on the "Update" button. You will need to be
connected to the Internet.
- Keep up on your Windows Updates.
viruses spread by taking advantage of security holes in your web browser or in Windows.
These holes can be fixed by downloading and installing your Windows Updates and
by downloading and installing the latest version of Internet Explorer. On
most versions of Windows, you can click on [Windows Update] from your Start menu to
update Windows. In Windows XP, click [Start], [All Programs],
- Help!!! I have a virus - what do I do?
- Don't panic! Most viruses can be dealt with fairly easily, before
they do major damage.
- If you think you have the W32.Blaster.Worm virus, click
information and repair tools.
- Stay offline. If you go online, you run the risk of sending the virus out.
Many modern viruses will also open your computer up to hackers while you're online.
- Make sure you have the latest virus definitions for your anti-virus software. If you
don't, contact the Boreal office - we may be able to provide them to you so you won't
need to go online for them. If you don't have anti-virus software, get some, install it,
and download the latest virus definitions for it.
- Run a virus scan and repair, quarantine, or delete infected files. NOTE: If a
file cannot be repaired, it's usually safe to quarantine or delete it.
- If this doesn't work, contact Boreal. Some viruses need special tools to be cleaned up,
or you may need to manually edit or delete some files.
- I just got a virus alert from a friend. Should I pass it on?
- No. Most virus alerts you receive in your email are hoaxes, and passing
them on does more harm than good - it causes people to ignore warnings about
real viruses, causes excess traffic over the server (just like a real virus), and
spreads fear. Some hoaxes even cause real damage to your computer by tricking
you into deleting files that are needed for your computer to run properly. Some signs of hoaxes are:
Virus hoaxes are listed at
http://vil.mcafee.com/hoax.asp? Please check these sites
before forwarding any virus warnings.
- They usually tell you you'll get the virus just by reading or opening a particular
email message. Few real viruses work this way - normally you have to open an
attachment to get a virus. Those that do work this way
can be prevented by having your browser patched or upgraded to the latest
verson. See the explanation above.
- They usually emphasize that you should send this to as many people as possible.
This is the author's way of getting you to send his or her hoax on.
- The supposed virus they describe is unusually destructive - they claim it will wipe out
your hard drive, erase your BIOS, or do something else that will completely destroy your
- They often refer to an official source, such as Microsoft, AOL, IBM or even the FCC,
to make the alert sound authentic. Microsoft, AOL, IBM, etc. don't send virus
alerts via email.
- They claim the virus is undetectable. If it's undetectable, how did
the people who sent the email detect it?
- More Information: There's an excellent site on viruses and other
destructive types of software at: