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Anti-Virus Measures

Here are some tips to help prevent your computer from becoming infected by viruses and help you recover in the unfortunate event that it happens.

  1. DO NOT OPEN ATTACHMENTS
    A majority of viruses that get distributed on the net are sent through attachments. These attachments contain executable code in the form of a program or script. The best line of defense is to not open them unless you are know who the file is from and are expecting it. Sometimes even people you know can send you seemingly harmless files as part of a friendly email, but be careful. Viruses usually mask themselves in this way to propagate themselves faster. If you're unsure, email the person who sent it to confirm the attachment. It's better to be safe than sorry.
  2. UPDATE YOUR ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE REGULARY
    Anti-virus software can keep your computer safe from viruses by scanning your files for known virus patterns. Just having the software is better protection than nothing, but the best protection comes from keeping that software updated to defend against new viruses. This is commonly known as updating your "virus definitions". Links at the bottom of the page will help you find software for your computer and keep it updated once it's installed.
  3. DELETE CHAIN LETTERS, VIRUS ALERTS, AND JUNK MAIL
    Chain letters may be cute and/or promise some impossible wish to be granted, Virus Alerts may seem informative, and junk mail is simply unwanted, but regardless, some of these can be dangerous and all of them are considered spam.

    Chain letters have usually been forwarded several times, include the email addresses of everyone it was sent to several generations back, and sometimes include pictures. That "picture" that gets sent could possibly contain a virus and some viruses have the ability to send itself to all those email addresses on that letter. Deleting these chain letters will help defend against the spread of viruses.

    Virus Alerts are usually hoaxes. They warn of a fictitious virus outbreak, usually mention the names of several large companies, and may offer advice to detect and repair this so called virus. They usually instruct you to delete perfectly good system files from your computer that are necessary for its operation, then blame the strange resulting behavior on the "virus". These letters also contain many email addresses from being forwarded so many times. If you receive a letter like this, just ignore and delete it.

    Junk mail is considered spam. DO NOT CLICK ANY LINKS THEY PROVIDE as this will prove you have a live email address and may send you to a site containing deceptive popup ads and may exploit security holes in your computer. For more information, visit the sites below or go to our spam page.
  4. BE CAREFUL WHEN SURFING ONLINE
    When downloading files, make sure the site you're downloading them from are reliable sources. It's also a good idea to make sure your virus software is scanning all the files you download. In some rare cases web sites may ask you to install a plug-in to view their page. BE VERY CAREFUL that you know where the file is coming from and what that file is supposed to do. If you're unsure, click "No" or "Cancel" to cancel the install.
  5. BACKUP YOUR FILES ON A REGULAR BASIS
    If your efforts to catch viruses fail and your system becomes inoperable or infects personal files or documents, it helps to have a backup to replace the damaged files (or operating system as the case may be). Regularly backing up your files onto disk, cd, or other storage medium will come in handy and save time.
  6. TURN OFF THE PREVIEW PANE
    If you are using Outlook or it's cousin Outlook Express you may not realize it, but when you click on an email in your inbox YOU ARE ACTUALLY OPENING THE EMAIL since it will show in the preview pane (usually right below the list of messages). This can cause a disaster if you receive a virus that runs from a script, like the popular LoveLetter virus. Turning off that preview pane may take some getting used to at first, but it will help provide better defense.

    To do turn the preview pane off in Outlook Express, open the program and click View > Layout... then uncheck "Show Preview Pane" and click OK. To disable it in Outlook, start the program and go to your Inbox. From that folder, click on View and toggle the Preview Pane (you may have to expand the menu to see it). See the links below for more suggestions.
  7. DO NOT HIDE FILE EXTENSIONS
    An attachment of a picture that appears to be something like "MyNewHome.jpg" may actually be a masked program with the real filename of "MyNewHome.jpg.exe" which is really an executable program and most likely will contain a virus if concealed in this manner. To catch these types of files, you need to turn on the file extensions for your computer. To do this, open My Computer and look for Folder Options either under View or Tools at the top of the window. Select the "View" tab at the top of the new window, and look for something along the lines of "Hide extensions for known file types". Uncheck the box next to it, then click OK.

Links
Here are some links to other sites with more information about virus prevention.

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