It is always important to be conscious of the presence of any viruses that may affect your computer. Here are some tips for how to manage protective software and minimize your risk for these hazards.

The destructive and time-consuming capabilities of viruses is something everyone should hope to avoid, but being careful is simply not enough these days. As virus programs become more sophisticated computers users must remain vigilant in finding ways to block or prevent the spread of these damaging nuisances.

Outside of any software or hardware protections you may have for your computer, there is a good general guideline to use to protect yourself from infection. Be aware of the file names on the attachments you are opening, and who they are coming from. For example, if an attachment is named 'test.doc', the .doc tells you it is a Microsoft Word file. If you see an attactment that you don't recognize like 'smiley.vbs', do not open it. Ask whomever sent you the message what it the file really is.

The most important thing for any computer user to understand is that it is not enough to obtain some virus protection software, install it once, and never worry about it again. Users must be on a constant lookout for new and innovative viruses that may be designed to go around their current protection software.

Thus, it is advisable for all computer users to get into the habit of taking a few minutes each week to look for any new information that may detail the latest and sneakiest virus programs that may be making the rounds of the computer world. A regular visit to the web pages of some experts in virus protection is an excellent step towards finding the latest information about what may be a hazard to your computer. There are also often patches or programs any user can download for free to help protect their computer.

Whether you decide to buy a protective package or find a free download from the internet, regular searches for the latest information on new and improved viruses will ge a long ways towards helping you keep your work protected. Looking for updates or better versions of protection programs is also a useful habit to get into.

Some of the more well-known web sites that keep accurate and up-to-date information on viruses floating around the world are listed here for your use. Don't feel these are the only places to find accurate and useful information, but they are some of the most recognized sites for most any user.

ZD NET is an exhaustive web page that holds information on thousands of computer and technology related products and issues. Doing a search on that page for information on viruses and protection software can be a great help. One useful and relevant link is the IT Security Resources page, which details many protection issues and options. This is a good place to get articles, reviews, free downloads and information on what is happening in the world of computer virus protection options.

Another commonly used resource is the home page. This site includes many articles on the latest virus threats and solutions. Specific information can be found at the Anti-Virus home page.

Finally, and what is likely the best-known virus protection software company today, Norton Anti-Virus programs offer quality protection for potential infections. The company that makes this product is Symatec. Their Internet Security Site is another useful source of information on what any user should be aware of to protect their system.

The most important thing for any user to remember is that virus protection is a constant battle. As viruses change and adapt to "beat" the latest protection software it is important for all computer users to keep an ear towards what is happening in this area and take steps to maintain a high level of security.

A dangerous way that some viruses spread is through many of the commonly used email clients, as viruses are written specifically to hurt users of these programs. The most typically targetted programs for these viruses is Microsoft Outlook. Here is an article on how to configure your Outlook program to help prevent viruses spreading without your approval or knowledge. Outlook and Automatic Viruses

One last related issue to the virus topic is the presence of "hoax" viruses. These are not true viruses but are instead rumors about some nasty virus.These hoaxes usually come in the form of an email warning multiple users about a specific virus. While these do no actual damage to any the computer, they do clog our networks as people forward them to friends or co-workers. It is a good practice to not send a virus warning to anyone else unless you are certain it is a real threat The sites listed above also include articles and information on what may be a hoax or a simple rumor. But here are some pages dedicated to debunking hoaxes and saving everyone valuable time:

Virus Hoax Information

CIAC Hoax Busters

For those may have missed it or forgotten, click on the following link to see an article written for the December issue which details some more useful tips when dealing with viruses. Tips for Avoiding the New and Improved Viruses

Specific questions about viruses can be brought to ITSS through our Help Desk by visiting that page or calling 726-8847.


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