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HOW TO: Avoid The Deadly Computer Viruses

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The term 'I'm Virus Free' can often be heard being said by Macs or Linux users. But if you think you're 'safe' just because you're a Mac or Unix User think again. Consider the fact that the vast majority of PC users aren't on Macs or Unix systems, so hackers don't bother to write viruses for them. Knowing that, you should understand that viruses get triggered not because the computer is a PC but because the user isn't paying attention.

It takes awareness and a lot of meticulousness to keep from triggering viruses off but it's not hard. Here's a list of precautions I take to avoid computer viruses.

  1. Don't download anything from anyone you don't know or aren't expecting - If you think the e-mail looks suspicious, it probably is. It never hurts to call or send an email to verify that it is legitimate.

  2. Turn off the auto-launch in your email client - I don't even auto-launch graphics. Furthermore, READ YOUR EMAIL ONLINE! Don't download the email until you're 100% sure it is safe.

  3. Check Email Attachment Headers - If your email has an attachment, go into your headers and look at it. If it's got a pif or scr extension, chances are it's a virus. The only things that hacker's haven't been able to embed viruses into, to my knowledge, are pictures. But just because it says it's a picture doesn't mean it is. Look at the attachment name. File names don't lie. If it's a .jpg.scr extension, it's a virus.

  4. Install an Anti-Virus program - Norton, F-Secure, NOD 32, McAfee, or AVG works great and also have a free or trail version available. Make sure you keep your virus definitions updated and run a full system scan weekly.

  5. Install an Anti-Spyware program - Ad Aware SE, Windows Defender, spybot where all designed to get rid of programs on your system that send your data to the web and as such could be opening holes that you don't know about... Just like Anti-Virus, keep it updated, and do a full system scan weekly. Often these anti-spyware programs will find problems that anti-virus programs overlook.

  6. Be careful when surfing. You can get a malicious script from a webpage and not know it. If you ever get a window asking if you want to allow an automatic install, say "No" unless you know the site requesting the install.

  7. Consider switching to a different web browser. Other web browsers such as Firefox or Opera or new shinny Chrome are considered to have better security than Internet Explorer; some people also see them as more flexible and faster browsers.

  8. Set Windows Update to automatic upgrades - This will allow your computer to automatically download any updates to both Windows and Internet Explorer. These updates fix security problems and block many spyware programs and viruses.

  9. Turn on Windows Firewall - or install a free firewall program to help block unwanted internet traffic which can cause problems.

  10. Don't let kids on the 'Net on your system - The saying kids will always be kids is so true, they will come on your brand new system and just click and click away at every pop-up which presents it self, loading tones of viruses on your system.

In my opinion, the only real hole is the User, and the sooner we become aware the better. If you don't protect your system, nobody else will.

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