Our Virtual world has its share of problems. We have been scurrying around like squirrels do for nuts, trying to salvage our precious work stations and personal computers from malicious attacks by viruses, ever since Dr. Fred Cohen, first published about the existence a computer virus – to whom the credit invariably goes to, for discovering the hot bed of evil online – in the year 1984. Oh yes, your latest anti-virus should be able to help you a little, but it has been reported that these are not really up to the battle-style commandeering that is a pre-requisite on the internet today. Here are some precautions you should pay heed to in spite of having invested in your fancy anti-virus program.
-- Jettison that Windows Operating system altogether : Think about it, if more than 75% of all the computers in the world use Microsoft’s operating systems, the viruses have all be developed for that system, eh? All you have to do now is to jettison it and use Linux or Unix Instead. There are few Unix viruses or worms and it is a much better operating system with a community standing by to help. However, it may also be largely because Windows computers are common and inexpensive and the kind of people who code malicious viruses are so lame that they can’t figure out how to code for Unix systems.
-- It isn’t just viruses, you also run from evil-wares: Once upon a time it was just viruses that one was scared of. Now you have spamware, spyware and all sorts of malicious programs which only seem to be growing by the internet minute. It helps if you have the best, most robust, periodically updated and incredibly efficient anti-virus, anti-spyware and Internet special solutions available in the market like McAfee, Norton, Bit-defender etc. Instead of buying just an anti-virus package, buy an entire solution that comes with a firewall.
-- Avoid Free Sites like plague: I know that FREE is still the most powerful word online and few people can resist the temptation to hover around tons of these websites which claim to give stuff away for free. But do it with caution; better still, don’t do it at all since the folks behind this free software get a perverse pleasure out of seeing your computer at the point of no return by planting Trojans and reformatting your hard drive by giving you viruses hidden in their archives.
-- Never open an email with an attachment, unless it’s from your mother: At any given time, my Inbox is flushed with at least a hundred mails that are filtered automatically into spam. However, your spam filter isn’t God and will not be 100% accurate at all times – you are bound to receive emails that seem to be genuine and might ask you to check out that new pill, toy, game, and software. You really don’t have to open these emails and especially so if they have an attachment tagging along. Don’t run a new program unless you are certain it comes from a trustworthy source.
-- Upgrade Software; Disable Java: You must upgrade your software to the latest pack possible – starting with your operating system to all those frequently used software packs – to disable all macro viruses. Up gradation simply renders them void and checks for macros in any new file you open. If it finds them, it prompts you to decide whether you want to disable these macros. To be on the safer side, take extra care with the Windows Office Suite at all – maybe even go for Google Docs or Open Office Suite. I say that because Microsoft Office suite – with those macros which use Visual Basic for functioning – are prone to virus attacks in a big way. While you are at it, disable Java on your web browser because it can transmit viruses that can destroy windows computers.
Here are a couple of resources worth reading while you struggle with your virus attack are “It’s Alive” by Dr. Fred Cohen, (Wiley, New York, 1994) and “The Giant Black Book of Computer Viruses” by Dr. Mark Ludwig (American Eagle, Show Low AZ, 1998).
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