Computer Viruses - How to Stop 'em dead.

Computer viruses and not at all like human viruses (Yes, some people don't realize this.) They are nothing more than simple computer programs that do various things. Unfortunately, they do BAD "various things". It's even more unfortunate that there are people in world writing viruses, these people are criminals. They think it's humorous to screw-up somebody's PC, well, nobody's laughing, especially the FBI. Virus writers are criminals and they will be caught. They ALL deserve one home....JAIL.

(Actually, BT is for public whippings followed by a nice, warm, slow-roast, stake burning.

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You might have a virus on your PC right now !
Viruses are very sneaky. If your not using a updated anti-virus program to protect your system, you are at risk. You could be infected and not even realize it. Many viruses activate on specific dates or under certain conditions (Trojan Horses). They lay around a bit, then do their dirty deed. Others just do small yet annoying things like make a sound when you hit a certain key. 

ALL good Anti-Virus Programs (AVP's) need to be frequently updated, at minimum, once a month. Mo' frequent-Mo' better. If your AVP is current AND you run weekly scans AND you have an "auto-protect" feature in your AVP, then you can be about 99.9% sure your system is clean. Who falls into that 00.1% that's left? The poor "guinea pigs" that are the first people to get nailed. When PC's start showing up in repair shops or a professional somewhere realizes what's happened, the virus gets reported to the masses. The AVP software builders work to obtain a copy of it and then come up with a way to detect and eliminate it. In the mean time,  the 00.1% is getting screwed. New viruses appear DAILY...not just when you hear about them on the news. Thus, the importance of keeping your AVP up to date.

Some Things Viruses Do
Wipe out your hard drive. 
Your PC no longer boots. 
Make Windows behave strangely. 
Stop programs from working or they behave oddly.
Flash strange messages on the screen or make it change colors.
Make files vanish randomly. 
Send e-mail to people in your address book or to the last person you sent mail with a copy of the virus attached. 
Cause documents to print garbage. 
Change values in Excel spreadsheets or words in Word. 
Many, many more things !

Non-Viruses - There are many virus hoaxes on the web. There are people starting chain letters saying things like, "AOL has identfeded a knew virruus kalled Bullchit. This be a wery bbad virruus, sned dis mial to all you're freinds to warn dem". These are nothing but garbage, do not forward the message to anyone except the trash bin !!!  It is very, very rare to get a legitimate warning by e-mail. If you do see a warning, check it out for yourself on the WEB.

Antivirus Programs
There are several manufacturers of AVP's. My choice is Norton Antivirus (NAV) by Symantec. You can click on this link and download NAV if you are sitting naked with no protection right now. Instant AVP gratification. The team at Symantec is working 24 hours a day on detecting and killing viruses. They issue frequent NAV updates and make the update process simple. NAV scans for viruses in memory every time Windows starts and it also runs in the background while you work. The key to any anti-virus program is keeping it updated, you must continuously update the program in order for it to be effective, and yes, it never ends. 

Microsoft Excel and Word versions 97 and later have built-in virus protection. The viruses infecting Excel and Word documents are called "Macro Viruses". When you open an infected document the macro runs and does some sort of damage. In later versions of Excel and Word (97 or later), any documents containing macros will not be opened without the user allowing them. A window will appear on the screen saying "This document contains macro's. What would you like to do? If you see this screen, ALWAYS select "DISABLE MACROS". This stops the macro virus dead in it's tracks and you can continue to read the document safely. Unless you are 100.00% sure the macros are supposed to be there, always disable them.

Most modern PC's also have low level antivirus protection built-in. However, the only protection it provideds is for the "Boot Sector". This is a section on the hard drive that contains information info that tells your operating system "how" to start. When a virus attempts to write files to the Boot Sector, a message will come up on the screen telling you that a program is attempting to write files there. Then you have a choice, yes or no, to allow it to write files there. There are essentially two things that will EVER attempt to write to the Boot Sector, installation of an operating system and a VIRUS. Unless you know what you're doing, ALWAYS ANSWER NO if your PC asks for permission to write to the Boot Sector.

You CANNOT get a virus from...
Viewing web pages (1)
Downloading dirty pictures.
Reading e-mail (2). Just don't open any attachments. 

(1) There is an extremly low probability of visiting a website  that can run malicious scripts on your PC. Keep your operating system (Windows) updated to patch 99.9% of these security flaws.

(2) As of Nov99 a new virus has been developed, it is known as "Bubble Boy". Under a few very specific conditions, it is able to infect your system just by clicking on it. Read Below.

Some safe attachments have the file extensions: txt, rtf, jpg, bmp, mpg, mpe, avi, pdf and gif.

Bubble Boy and Future Variants E-mail Virus
First of all, this is a very rare virus and there is NO reason to panic. It is very easy to permanently prevent Bubble Boy and ANY future variants from infecting your system.

This piece of crap can infect your system only if ALL of the following are true: 

Must be using Windows 98 or Windows 95 must have "Windows Scripting Host" (WSH) installed.
Must be using Microstool Outlook or Outlook Express 

Notes: To check if the Win Scripting Host (WSH) is installed, click: Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs > Windows Setup. Click on the "Accessories" option then scroll down to "Windows Scripting Host". If it is checked, UNCHECK IT...you will never miss it. For Win95 users, unless you specifically went out of your way and installed WSH, it will not be on your system. Users of Outlook Express are more vulnerable than Outlook because of the "Preview Pane". Just clicking on the mail once activates it because the preview pane actually opens the mail. Users of the full Outlook version can click on it once and delete it without problem. Just empty the "Trash Folder" after deleting it to kill it for good. For a lot more information see: http://www.symantec.com , search "bubble boy".

The hardcore method of being in the 99.99% safe group.
SCAN ALL floppy disks, CD-ROM's and other removable media with a RECENTLY updated AVP before using. Especially from friends and family.
NEVER open e-mail attachments with the file extensions: exe, pif, bat, com, or reg. Beware of files with extensions: doc, dot, xls, xla, xlt
NEVER download and run files with the above extensions from the web, especially EXE.
NEVER leave a floppy in your PC's drive while booting.
BACK-UP your clean hard drive.
UPDATE your Antivirus Program data files every week.

Many people laugh at this level of paranoia but this is the only sure method of keeping your PC virus free.

Remember This !
Most viruses are spread accidentally amongst friends and family ! No kidding. Don't trust anything that comes into your computer. Scan items that you have trust in before putting them on your PC.

Bad Thad's 1999 Award for Commercial Email:

All About Virus Hoaxes

More Interesting Web Sites on Viruses:

http://www.hoaxkill.com

http://www.sarc.com

http://ciac.llnl.gov/ciac/CIACHoaxes.html#identify

 

 

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