The problem with computer virus infections is that more often than not by the time you realize you have a problem, you have already lost some valuable data. Recovering from a virus infection can be tedious and time consuming. So why do so many users not bother with running virus detection software or keeping their programs up-to-date?
Thousands of dollars are lost by businesses every day as a result of virus infections. And if you're not vigilant you too can become a victim of this malicious code. So here are a few tips for protecting your computers and data against infection.
- Back up your files regularly (at least weekly). Make separate backups of your data files and your software and store your backup diskettes/tapes in a safe and secure place away from your computer. Backups may be the only way to recover any destroyed files. However keep in mind that your backup files may also be infected!
- Do not use illegal or "pirated" software on your machine. Many times such software is infected.
- Do not use shareware unless you are absolutely sure that the software is free of viruses.
- If you download programs from the Internet, or if you received files or documents attached to email messages, scan them for viruses before you use them. Many current releases of virus scanning software automatically scan for viruses when files are being downloaded from the Internet.
- If you use diskettes that were used on another computer, scan them for viruses before using them.
- When you get new software for your computer, make sure it is shrink-wrapped and scan the diskettes before using them on your computer.
- Make sure that diskettes used to store software programs are write-protected. This prevents viruses from being copied onto the diskettes.
- If your "new" computer is in reality a recycled one that someone else used before you, do a "low-level format" of the hard drive. This will destroy any viruses that may be on the hard drive as well as get rid of illegal copies of software.
- If your "new" computer comes pre-loaded with software, scan the hard drive for viruses before you start using the computer.
- If you are sharing diskettes with someone else or if you use your diskettes on someone else's computer or a computer in a "Computer Pool/Lab," scan your diskettes before using them on your computer.
- If your know or suspect that your computer or any of your diskettes are infected, do not use the diskettes on another computer. Your diskettes are most probably infected too and using them on another computer will only spread the virus further!
- Do not boot your computer with a diskette that has not been scanned for viruses even if you think the diskette only contains data. Never booth your computer from a diskette created on another computer.
- If you normally boot your computer from the hard drive, make sure that there isn't a diskettes in the diskette drive.
- If your computer is located in an open office area or if the computer is used by more than one individual, consider installing a security package that restricts use of the computer to authorized users.
- Public-domain software should not be used until it is tested and labeled "clean."
- All software should be acquired from reputable dealers. Non-shrink-wrapped software may be infected although there are known incidents involving spreading of viruses through shrink-wrapped software.
- Update your anti-virus software regularly as the vendor release updates to it. Your software must be updated so that it can detect new viruses or strains of old viruses.
- Hoax viruses are a nuisance. If you receive any email messages warning you about a purported virus and asking you to forward the warning message to all your friends, DON'T. First check one of the many Virus databases found on the Internet to determine whether or not the warning you received is just a "Hoax" or the real McCoy!
For more informaiton on computer viruses, visit the following sites:
AVP Virus Encyclopaedia
Computer Virus Myths
Computer Virus Research Lab
Computer Virus Information and Resources Page
Datafellows (F-Prot) Virus Database Page
IBM Antivirus Online Page
Symantec Virus Database Page