Viruses - We love to hate 'em

Talk to others about making and writing music on a computer

Postby Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Ed » Mon Feb 09, 2004 10:09 am

Current viruses are sophisticated in the way they attack the unprotected computer. They take advantage of security "holes" in browsers and the operating system, fake the "From" field of the e-mails they send, grab e-mail addresses from pages you visit on the Web, send your private documents all over the Internet as means of propagating themselves and even take over your machine to mount attacks on other web sites. For example, the current "MyDoom" virus does all these things. Other viruses spy on your web surfing and send reports to various unscrupulous businesses, including porn site operators. I and the other members of the staff of PEP receive anywhere from 20 to 200 copies of viruses every day from the machines of unsuspecting visitors to PEP.

You cannot be an Internet "good citizen" and certainly can't protect your privacy without taking precautions against viruses. Fortunately, it will only take an hour or so to make your computer nearly impregnable, and it doesn't need to cost you a dime. Here's how:

1) Get antivirus software. There are several good commercial utilities like Norton or McAfee antivirus that you can get for under $20 discount on the web. Install the software and make sure that you set it up to get automatically the almost daily updates that are done. These are free with the software. There are also several freeware antivirus programs. Failing that, both TrendMicro and Symantec offer free online security and virus scans, along with tools to remove specific viruses that might be detected in the scan. These tools aren't as efficient as running the commercial software, but they will tell you if you have a problem and often provide a way to fix it.

2) Get and run a "firewall" program. Most antivirus packages come with a firewall program, but you can also get one of the best, ZoneAlarm. completely free from the ZoneLabs site, www.zonelabs.com[URL=http://www.zonelabs.com]ZoneLabs[/UR
L]. The firewall controls what computers can access your machine and from where. With it, you can put your machine into a "stealth" which makes it practically invisible to those who might try to commandeer it.

3) If you're running any version of Windows, make sure that you run the Windows Update program and enable it to automatically check for and download updates to the operating system. These updates are free and installation of them takes just seconds. This is CRITICAL to your ability to resist attacks.

4) Don't open e-mails from people you don't recognize, especially if their file size is greater than about 15 kilobytes. Be sure to set up your mail program to display the e-mail size. This may be the single most important thing you can do to identify a new virus, even before an antivurs program can identify it, since most destructive viruses are of significant size (>30 KB). Don't open attachments from anybody, unless you know about and expect to receive such an attachment. Even if the From: field of the e-mail indicates it comes from somebody you know, remember that most viruses these days fake ("spoof") that field.

These are the most important things you can do to protect yourself and everybody else from virus programmers intent on doing you harm or using your machine to do somebody else harm. It may not seem very important now, but the first time a virus wipes out most of your family digital photos, overwrites your collection of MP3's or sends your company's computerized books around the world, you might feel differently!



Edited By Dr. John Zeigler - PEP Editor on 1077753024
All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. - Albert Einstein
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