Protect Against Viruses

Viruses, Malware, Scareware, Trojan Horses, Worms, are a major problem for computer owners. Mac owners-listen up, Macs get viruses too!  I’m lumping all of the above into one category for convenience. While they’re really not the same, for this post, we’ll treat them as one.

What is a virus?
A virus is simply a program ( a set of computer instructions ). The creator of the virus writes lines of computer instructions called “code”. Lines of code are used legitimately in every piece of software on your computer.  The problem with viruses is the code is often harmful or malicious.  For example, the creator of the virus program, commonly called a “Coder” , could put in an instruction to delete all the files on your hard drive, send emails to everyone in your address book, record every keystroke you make looking for usernames and passwords, business secrets,etc.

How does my computer get infected with a virus?
It’s shockingly easy to contract a virus. All it takes is one keystroke or mouse click! Most viruses are spread by email, either in a link, or sometimes even in a picture or the text of the email. Another common way viruses are spread is on malicious or compromised websites. If the coder can trick you into visiting a malicious or compromised website, just by going to that website the virus can attempt to exploit security vulnerabilites on your computer.

How do I protect myself from viruses?
Protecting yourself from viruses requires a few simple steps. 1. Always keep your anti-virus progran up-to-date. 2. Always keep the firewall on your computer or network turned on. 3. Keep your operating system and software programs up-to-date. 4. Be really careful before clicking on any links in email (even if it’s from a friend or relative).

What happens if my computer gets infoected with a virus?
If your computer gets infected with a virus, there are two possible routes to removing the virus. The best way (and the only way to be certain that the virus is gone), is to copy all your files, wipe the hard drive clean, Reinstall your opertaing system and every piece of software, copy your data back, setup printing, Internet access and email. The second way, (which works occasionally, depending upon the virus your computer has contracted), is to run several anti-virus tools and hope for the best. Wile this approach works sometimes, you should keep an eye on your computer for a week or two to make sure the virus doesn’t reappear.

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