The following tips are a collection of general information we have provided for your benefit. While most of this information is fairly basic, we encourage you to contact us or stop by our office with any questions you may have.
In the meantime, enjoy reading these articles and happy learning!
Viruses and Malicious Software
Basic Tips To Avoid Viruses
No Anti-Virus program can BLOCK viruses, they can only detect them and remove them once you are already infected. Even the Anti-Virus programs that you pay for have this downfall. That's why we do NOT recommend that you pay for anti-virus software. The free programs we use offer just as much protection and they will not "slow down" your computer as much as the bulkier programs will (like Norton or McAfee).
Where do viruses come from? How can I avoid them? Viruses enter your computer in a number of ways, all require an internet connection. When you are using the internet, the sites you go to and/or download from are sharing information with your computer. If you go to an infected site or download something that contains malicious code, your computer can become infected.
The following guidelines will help you avoid viruses and other malicious software.
- Don't participate in Email forwarding. Email attachments and forwards are a very common way to get infected, even if you receive an email with a link or attachment from someone you know it can still harm your computer.
- Don't download anything for free. Free pictures, music, ring tones, and screen savers are usually just vehicles for viruses and spyware.
- Be careful with social networking. Social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are generally safe but people can post links and advertisements that will direct your browser to a potentially bad site where you can then pickup an infection.
- Search safely. When using online search engines such as Google be sure to scrutinize your search results and read the information displayed, don't just click on the first link that you see.
- Monitor and educate your children. Talk to your kids about their internet habits. Keep the computer in a public room so you can keep an eye on what they're doing.
Removing viruses can be relatively painless or it can be an absolute nightmare depending on how nasty the particular viruses you are infected with are. In best case scenarios you can use programs like the ones listed here to scan and remove infections on your system. Unfortunately, much of the time it is not that easy.
For serious infections we utilize a number of techniques including using Safe Mode, extra utilities that target specific viruses, manual deletion of infected viruses, etc. Even these extra techniques are not successful 100% of the time.
The worst case scenario for an infected system is to wipe the computer clean and install Windows from scratch on your computer. This will get rid of the viruses, but it will get rid of everything else on your computer too! This means it is necessary to do a complete backup of the data on your computer before proceeding and after this process is done there are tons of settings and programs that need to be restored and/or reconfigured.
It is much better to try to avoid viruses than to count on being able to clean them once you're infected.
Why do people write viruses?
Although I don't know any virus writers personally, I can say generally what the motive is for people who make viruses. I assume there are 2 major motivations for writing malicious software:
- Monetary Gain-
Many viruses come in the form of programs that get installed without your permission and then claim to offer some function such as Virus Protection, some utility that claims to make your computer faster, or will get you coupons that will save you money. These are all scams and what usually happens is as soon as you say 'Yes, get me that service' you will end up at a screen that wants you to give them your credit card number.
Some of these look quite legitimate, but if you were to enter in your credit card number they would then be able to use it to make any purchases they wanted.
No legitimate software company will solicit you through a program that installed itself without your permission!
Some viruses literally do nothing more than mess up your computer. The answer to why someone would want to do such a thing is a combination of Vandalism and Anonymity. That is, some people would throw a rock through your window if they were confident they could get away with it. Viruses are almost impossible to trace back to the author so these people wantonly harm your computer and get off scott free. The best thing you can do is be aware that viruses are out there, and not fall for their scams.