Imagine a door-to-door salesman (dressed like a physician) coming to your home and proclaiming that your family is infected with the swine flu.
“No need to worry,” he says, “I can get rid of the virus with this pill ... conveniently priced at $39.99.”
You’d probably laugh on your way to call the police. When it comes to our computers’ health, however, we may not be as rational.
Nothing is more frustrating than multiple pop-ups proclaiming “error” or “virus alert.” We want immediate solutions, even if they come from unreliable or untrustworthy sources (i.e. a pop-up ad).
The most recent in a long line of virus invasions involves exactly this. Hackers infect your computer and then try to get you to pay for the remedy. Beware any message that both announces a virus infection and also asks for credit card information to remove it.
Steps to help avoid viruses
1. Use an Internet firewall
Note: Windows Vista and Windows XP with SP2 has a firewall already built-in and turned on by default.
2. Visit Microsoft Update and turn on automatic updating.
Note: If you’ve installed the most recent version of Microsoft Office, Automatic Updates will also update your Office programs. If you have an earlier version of Office, use Office Update.
3. Subscribe to industry standard antivirus software, such as AVG or CA and keep it current.
4. Never open an e-mail attachment from someone you don’t know.
5. Avoid opening an e-mail attachment from someone you know, unless you know exactly what the attachment is. The sender may be unaware that it contains a virus.
What about spyware?
Although spyware programs are different from viruses, some can behave like viruses and pose similar and other risks.
To help protect against spyware, use antispyware software such as SpyBot Search and Destray. Although most virus scanning programs now scan for spyware as well, this one always seems to catch some that the others don’t.
When you have a virus, you need to call a trustworthy professional.
As a free service to the community, Computer Problem Specialists will scan your computer and give you an honest assessment of your situation.
It couldn’t be any easier. Go to http://computerproblemspecialists.com/freescan for this free service (and peace of mind).
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.