Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dealing With Viruses

Computer viruses are getting nastier. One thing I've noticed is how easily your computer can be infected by doing something that seems totally harmless - like opening a video in Facebook or downloading Google Chrome. Yes, both have happened to me and it's time to give a little advice on preventing and dealing with viruses you may receive as well.

Preventing Viruses

If someone were advising you on how to prevent from getting a real disease, you'd probably hear things like: see a doctor regularly, change your diet, excercise regularly, etc. This idea of doing multiple things to prevent infection is the same when it comes to protecting your computer. To do this, it's important to do the following:

1) Never open attachments you're not 100% certain about. I know, you've heard it 1000 times before - never open attachments. But viruses are getting trickier. For example, I recently got a virus after opening a video that came from a friend on Facebook. How sneaky! The video arrived as a "message" and not as a wall posting, so keep that in mind when checking your FB Inbox. If a friend sends you a video, email them first to confirm they really sent it. Sounds like alot of work but would you rather have a virus?

2) Download and install multiple anti-spam software programs. I would recommend the following programs: SpyBot, AVG and Malwarebytes. There is also a nice, free online scan at Windows Live OneCare. Some viruses actually disable your ability to run updates for these various programs - another annoyance. To get around this, you'll need to have more than one anti-virus program handy - the more tools at your disposal the better. I would not recommend Norton or McAfee anti-virus programs as I've found them to be too intrusive.

3) Have one anti-virus program monitoring your system at any given time. While you may download and install multiple anti-virus programs, one is all you need to actively monitor your system. Doing this will help detect viruses as they are launched on your system. I would suggest either Spybot, which uses something called Tea Timer, or AVG to accomplish this.

4) Update your anti-virus definitions daily. Each virus (old and new) has a set of "definitions" along with it. These definitions vary depending on which anti-virus program you're using. But the idea is to make sure you have the latest definitions on your system so if an infection is detected you're able to remove it (works much like a flu or tetanus shot). In the event one anti-virus program can't update or doesn't have the latest virus definitions, at least you have a few other program options. The more programs you have access to, the better your chances of finding a "cure" for your infected files.

If you are in the Web Feat local area (Central and Southwest VA) and need assistance with installing, configuring and scanning your systems for viruses, appointments can be made by request.

Anthony Vita