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PC Doctor+ Guide 1 Viruses

Written By: Steve Latimer

Get Some Protection: Part 1 Viruses

There was a time not too long ago when viruses still had a certain novelty factor. Not so now.

The facts are simple enough – if you connect to the Internet then sooner or later your computer will come under attack from a virus. The only question is what are you going to do about it.

What Is A Virus?

Put simply a virus is a tiny piece of computer programming code that can be transferred to your computer. They are usually hidden in e-mails, often as attachments but can also transfer themselves on the back of any downloads you undertake from the Internet. MP3 download programs such as Kazaa are notorious for this and users can often download more they bargained for. Once the virus takes up residence on your computer it can do one of several things from creating nuisance behaviour on your computer e.g. interfering with the characters displayed on the screen, to trashing the hard disk completely.
These tiny programs are called viruses because they have the ability to duplicate and send a copy of themselves to other users over a network or the Internet via e-mail or file sharing access. They can also be transferred to other other computers not connected to the original through the use of floppy disks, CDs or magnetic tape. A common way for a virus to spread itself is to use a users e-mail address book as a source of recipients to which it can secretly send itself. The user generally has no idea what is happening.

What Can I Do To Prevent Infection?

There are several ways to protect yourself.

Use a bit of common sense
Don’t open e-mails that you weren’t expecting or when you don’t recognise the sender
Don’t open attachments if you are at all unsure of the genuineness of the sender.
Install anti-virus software AND use it!
Keep the anti-virus software up to date.

PCs are usually sold with anti-virus software installed but the protection it affords falls down when the user fails to keep the virus data files that the software uses up to date. Updates are usually available for free via the software vendors web site and downloading such updates at least weekly needs to be part of the routine maintenance of a PC.

If you don’t currently have anti-virus software on your computer then we recommend that you download the FREE version of AVG Anti-Virus from Grisoft.

Installation itself is a simple process if you accept all of the default settings that the program suggests. A re-boot will be necessary at the end of installation to fully activate the software and we suggest you begin by performing a full scan of your hard drive(s).

AVG can be set to download virus definition updates automatically from the Grisoft web site thus ensuring that you always have protection from the latest virus threats. You can upgrade to the ‘Pro’ version of the software if you wish but we have always found the FREE version to be very effective and can highly recommend it.

Other anti-virus software is available from Symantec (Norton Anti-Virus) and MacAfee as well as other companies. If you are already using their anti-virus products then make sure they are up to date by using the software to check for virus definition up-dates. Symantec are particular well thought of within the industry and are often the first to respond to any new virus threat.

PC Doctor+ Guides are intended for those relatively new to computing. They may be reproduced or included as content in other web sites provided acknowledgement is given to the author and a live link to http://www.thedriversite.co.uk is displayed.

About the Author

Steve Latimer is Web Administrator for the Driver Site http://www.thedriversite.co.uk

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