What exactly are computer viruses?
Similar to their biological brothers, computer viruses are designed to propagate, traveling from computer to computer to perform some mischief. That mischief may be as innocent as displaying a message that reads, "This Computer is Stoned," or as fatal as wiping out every file on a hard drive. There are more than 48,000 known viruses, and 1,000 or so are active.
1. A virus consists of at least two parts: the replication code, which spreads the virus, and the payload, which is the prank or destructive part. Whoever wrote the virus inserts the virus code into an otherwise harmless program. The program -- with the virus -- is distributed through the Internet, on floppy disks, or even on commercial CD-ROMs.
2. Once you open the host program, the parent virus is activated and replicates even further. The virus spreads copies of itself to other drives on your computer and to other computers on the same network. Each of these child viruses becomes a parent virus and replicates even further.
3. A virus may remain dormant for months so it can spread without suspicion. It waits for a trigger, often a specific date to launch itself. If an infected computer boots or an infected program is launched under trigger conditions, the rest of the virus activates to deliver the payload. Typically the virus will destroy the boot record or files on your drive that have certain extensions.
4. Other viruses called worms replicate and spread with great speed. One such worm is an e-mail macro virus, such as Melissa or the Love Bug, which is distributed as an attachment to an innocent-looking message. Merely opening the message to read it activates the macro. A typical macro virus accesses your mail program's address book and sends copies of the infected message to everyone in the book. This begins a chain reaction, with each recipient perpetuating the virus. This in itself can be the macro virus's payload: jamming mail systems with so many messages that the systems are too packed to carry legitimate mail. Other macro viruses destroy files and boot records as well.
(courtesy of smartbusinessmag.com)
How Can I Protect My Computer from Viruses?
You need an anti-virus program that you can set up to contact you frequently, online, to update your virus signature files (daily is good). This is not a "virus scan" - if you follow these instructions, you won't have to scan more than once a month or so. (If you don't follow these instructions, a scan will only find virus signatures that are already in your computer).
They estimate there are from 3-5 new viruses a DAY. Need I say more?
There are two good antivirus programs: Norton AntiVirus (which, in my opinion, seems to be easier to use) and McAfee Virus Shield. They are available at any store that sells computer software including Staples and Wal-Mart and cost $40-50. Many new computers come with one of these installed on it.
If you buy the program yourself, you will have a year's subscription to the service. If it's already installed, you will have a 3-9 month subscription. In any case, at the end of the period, you will be notified that it is about to expire. It is VERY important that you take the time to renew. The renewal costs less than $10 for a year - you'll need to have your credit card ready - and if you do the renewal by phone, be prepared to be put on hold for quite a while.
When you install the program, you will be guided through setting up a schedule of updates (Norton calls it LiveUpdate). Set this up to contact the website of the company daily. This way, whenever you go online, you will be getting any new signatures and you will be protected. If you already have one of these programs on your computer, go to your "Start" button, hover over "Programs," slide your mouse pointer over and click "Norton Antivius" or "McAfee Virus Shield." Once the program window opens, look for a command or button that says "Schedule" or "Options" and set it up to update daily.
If you have a broadband connection (cable or DSL), you will need a "firewall" in addition to an antivirus program. ZoneAlarm makes a good one and their program for consumers is free to individuals and non-profit organizations. Go to http://www.zonealarm.com to download it.
1. If you have Windows98, WindowsME or WindowsXP, click
"Start" Look at the top of the menu (above "Programs") for "Windows Update"
2. Next, go to http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/notify.asp
and sign up to be notified by email whenever there are new patches.
3. Open "Outlook Express" - if you use it as your email
program (most people do unless they're on AOL or MSN).
4. Next, click "Tools"
5. While you're still in "Options" go to the "Maintenance"
tab and put a check next to "Empty messages from the Deleted items folder
6. Now click the "Security" tab (still in "Options").
One More Thing: Click your Start button, Click "Windows
Explorer" OR on the keyboard, look for a button with a picture
of the Windows logo on it (it will be between the "Ctrl" button and the
"Alt" button). Hold down the Windows button while you click the letter
E. "Windows Explorer" will pop up.
What this does is show the file extensions (the .xxx) next to all files. Now when you receive an email attachment it will show you what it is. Don't open any with a .vbs or .scr attachment or any with a double attachment (.jpg.vbs for instance), as most of these are viruses. Be careful with .exe attachments - many of these are also viruses. There are a few .doc viruses. So be careful what you open. And if you're sending someone a .doc attachment, be sure that the subject line in your email makes it clear what the document is.
Don't ever leave the subject line blank - some creators of viruses leave this blank on purpose or the subject lines will have bad English or bad grammar in them - be really clear what you're sending.
Other information (courtesy of Consumer Reports):
Run programs such as America Online's Instant Messenger
only when needed.
Don't forward any e-mail warning about a new virus. It may be a hoax or outdated. Check for hoaxes at http://www.purportal.com -- see below.
All antivirus software companies offer an e-mail virus alert service.
What Is a Virus Hoax?
This is a warning that you might get about a certain e-mail that will do damage to your computer. It will often be forwarded from a friend to the whole known universe. Frequently, the warning will be written in ALL CAPS with many exclamation points (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).
There have also been several virus warnings lately that tell you to search your hard drive (with explicit instructions on how to do this), looking for a particular file. If you find it, you are to delete it. Unfortunately, every PC will contain the file listed. So far, none of these deletions have done serious damage to computers (they're files you can either do without, or else they are easy to re-install), but the day is coming…
Before forwarding one of these warnings along - and particularly, before deleting anything - go to this web site http://www.purportal.com and follow the instructions on the page. You can find out in a few seconds whether you're dealing with something real or not.
PETITIONS, CHAIN LETTERS, MISSING CHILDREN, E-MAIL TRACKING, ETC.
You will get many, many of these emails.
All email petitions are junk and will not solve the problem, even if it's for a worthy cause.
Email chain letters are just like "snail mail" ones - and, no, you won't have good or bad luck, no matter what you do with these.
All of the missing children are either hoaxes or the child was found 2 hours after the email was sent (3 years ago).
And it is IMPOSSIBLE to track your email -- you won't get free things from any company and no video clip will show up on your computer.
Your best action is to hit the Delete key!
I highly recommend the following web site. It's one of the most comprehensive. http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/blhoax.htm?once=true& and you can check out hoaxes, urban legends, rumors, junk here.
What is Spam?
This is junk email. Just like the junk snail mail that clutters up your regular mail box, this will clutter up your email box. It is unsolicited commercial email, sent by a company that has no existing business relationship with you to get you to buy something. In other words, mass mailings you didn't ask for and don't want.
NEVER reply to a spammer or attempt to use a link that they claim will remove you from their list. This just proves to them that there's a real person at this address and you'll get more spam!
Are There Any Weapons against Spam?
There are some commercial products that claim to sort and rid your computer
And/Or try this:
2. Start moving spam emails (without opening them) into that folder. Just click and drag them.
3. After a week or two, you should have a good assortment.
4. Now, with Outlook Express open, click "Tools"
5. On the "Mail Rules" tab, click "New"
6. Check "Where the Subject line contains specific words"
7. Check "Move it to the specified folder"
8. In 3, click "contains specific words" -- your spam folder now has
enough pieces of spam that you can find a number of words: keep typing
in words (viagra, mortgage, credit cards, cash giveaway, etc. etc. etc),
looking for ones that are common and that you can be pretty sure are spam.
(you can go back later and add more).
9. Click OK when you're done.
10. Now, click "Specified Folder"
11. Click "New folder"
12. Swipe your mouse over the Name of the Rule and type in a new name
(My Rule #1, for instance)
13. When an email arrives with one of those words in the subject line, it will automatically be moved over to the folder you created.
14. Periodically, check the folder to be sure that it doesn't contain an email from a friend and delete all in that folder without opening them.
15. You can add words to the list by repeating steps 4-9. But instead of clicking "New" in step 4, click "Modify"
*How Do I Create a New Folder?
In Outlook Express:
1. Have the Outlook Express window visible
Creating a new folder in your regular programs:
1. On your desktop, double click "My Documents"
How do I save emails into "My Documents?"
1. When the email is open, click "File"
Emy Shepherd 413-267-5210
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