Computer Info You Can Live With
January 14, 2002
More On Viruses
A pparently, last week’s newsletter got a lot of you thinking. I’ve noticed that many of my readers have adopted the BCC: technique of hiding e-mail addresses. That’s great! Just one more way of protecting yourself online.
As for the section on viruses, I received a number of e-mails that would indicate there is some confusion regarding this issue. With that in mind, let’s go over some of the facts about viruses. I’m going to use a question and answer format for this discussion. I hope this will clear up many if not all of your questions.
Q1. What is a computer virus?
A1. Simply put, a virus is any program that can replicate itself.
Q2. Where do viruses originate?
A2. Hackers, crackers and virus writers create viruses.
Q3. Why do people write viruses?
A3. Why do people shoplift? The reasons for writing viruses are as varied as the individuals who create them. However, some reasons include: to alert software companies of vulnerabilities; to prove to their friends they can do it; to maliciously harm another person’s computer; because they feel challenged (or for the same reason one climbs a mountain - because it’s there.)
Q4. How do viruses get into my computer?
A4. Through e-mail attachments; html references in e-mails; through downloads from a website; from floppy disks borrowed from someone with an infected computer.
Q5. How can I protect my computer?
A5. First and foremost, find a good virus protection software program and use it. The three I recommend are: Avast! (the one I use), AVG and Sophos for Business.
Q6. Once I install a virus protection software program, I’m safe, right?
A6. Wrong. New viruses are created daily. Therefore, your virus protection is only as good as your last DAT update.
Q7. What is a DAT update?
A7. Virus protection programs consist of two parts - the engine and the DAT files. The engine is what actually searches your computer for the viruses. The DAT files contain the identities and other information that the engine uses to find viruses on your computer. Since new viruses are found each day, if you don’t update your DAT files, you could allow viruses onto your computer that were created AFTER the DAT files were.
Q8. How do I update the DAT files?
A8. Most of the virus programs will remind you to update or even update automatically when you are online. The majority of companies include one year of DAT file updates with the purchase price of the software.
Q9. Is there anything else I can do to prevent viruses from “taking over” my computer?
A9. Yes. If you use Outlook Express, do NOT use the preview pane. That’s the window that appears at the bottom of the screen when you highlight an e-mail on the top of the screen. Additionally, do not open any suspicious attachment EVEN IF IT COMES FROM SOMEONE YOU KNOW! (We covered this in last week’s newsletter.) Be especially leery of attachments with the extension .exe.
Q10. Is a virus the same as a Trojan or a worm?
A10. Trojans and worms are types of viruses. Worms are generally the more destructive - sometimes erasing system files on your computer causing it to crash.
Q11. What if I have more questions or concerns?
A11. Feel free to contact me and I’ll do my best to help you.
I’m adding a new feature this week. I’ll use this area to give a quick review of some of the problems and questions that “crossed my desk” during the past week. Hopefully, you’ll find some of these interesting and helpful!
Item #1. Col. Oliver North named Bin Laden as “the most evil man alive” during the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987! Sounds good - but totally false. You can read the full story here: http://www.snopes2.com/rumors/north.htm
Item 2. A reminder from a friend’s workplace that the sulfnbk.exe “virus” is a hoax. If you are running Windows 95, 98 or ME, this is a system file and needs to be there. Read about it here:
Item 3. Another friend sent a virus warning about a virus called “Gigger.” While it is currently considered low risk, you might want to see what it’s all about: http://www.sophos.com/virusinfo/analyses/jsgiggera.html
Item 4. A client wrote asking for information on deleting TEMP files in Windows 98. You can see how to do that on our web page at:
Item 5. A client wrote saying that she has a Mustek Scanner for sale because no drivers are available for the scanner with Windows XP. This will be a trend as manufacturers scurry to catch up with Microsoft's new OS (operating system).
Well, that’s about it for this week’s Newsletter. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me.
Keystone Computer Concepts